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Double Shoals 

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The Bible Was in His Hands 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



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To My Father 

Joseph Chauncy Washburn 

And My Mother 

Estilla McSwain Washburn 

Whose families were neighbors to the Suttles 

For more than a hundred years 

And whose love and interest inspired me 

To write this book. 

Printed and Lithographed by 


Salisbury, North Carolina 

Bound by 

Charlotte, North Carolina 

Table Of Contents 


Dedication 5 

Foreword 9 

Acknowledgments 16 


I How To Rob A Crow's Nest 17 

II Who Spilled The Molasses 27 

HI "HopphV John" In Blacksburg, S. C 37 

IV Mr. Pickler Breaks A Toe In Stanly County 43 

V New Communion Cups In Johnston County 53 

VI John Barleycorn Gets Whipped In Marshall 72 

VII How Dessert Was Found In South Shelby 75 

VIH Why The Big Horse Was Called Fred 84 

IX Double Standards Are Raised At Double Springs 91 

X Adventures Of An Eight Year Old At Beaver Dam Ill 

XI "The Association Will Come To Order" 118 

XII "This Is The Way We Build Our Churches" 125 

XHI A College Saved Is A College Made 135 

XIV A Baptist Asbury Reaches The Top 153 

XV Story Of The Prayer Meeting That Was Never Held 164 

XVI How A Chew Of Tobacco Won A Convert 172 

XVII Why The Little Horse Did Not Drown 185 

XVIII "I'm Living To Preach That Doctor's Funeral" 192 

XIX The Mystery Of The Midnight Wedding 205 

XX A May Funeral For A December Demise 215 

XXI "I Honor My Fathers And Brothers In The Ministry".... 218 

XXII "My Sons In The Ministry Honor Me" 234 

XXIII A Picture Of A Pitcher-Collecting Partner. 255 

XXIV Brother John's Kith And Kin 266 

XXV "This I Believe" 284 

XXVI Brother John's Journey, A Canaan In Carolina. 298 

Appendix 310 

Copyright, 2958 


There is no denying that this book should have been 
written. It should have been written long ago. It should 
have been done by someone other than me. 

I am a physician, not a writer. My daily task is to 
examine, diagnose, and prescribe. But like Dr. Luke of 
long ago — a more honorable and more capable physician 
and writer — I have a story to tell. How I shall tell it re- 
mains to be seen. 

In a way, my story is a continuation of Luke's story 
nearly 2,000 years later. It is about a man who truly has 
been one of Jesus' most trusted disciples, who traveled 
more miles than the traveling Apostle Paul and preached 
more sermons than the Pentecostal Peter, and who has 
directed souls into the Kingdom for almost as many years 
as did the Beloved Apostle John. 

The saga, the story, the miracle, and the amazing ac- 
complishments of John William Suttle in 37 churches can 
never happen again. Many there are who will doubt they 
ever happened at all. 

They will never happen again. First, because there will 
never be another John Suttle; and second, because the 
nation, the South, the Southern Baptist Convention, the 
State of North Carolina, and the Kings Mountain Baptist 
Association will never be the same again. 

Dr. R. C. Campbell, a native Tar Heel, alumnus of 
Gardner-Webb College, Vice-President of the Southern 
Baptist Convention, and one of the truly great ministers 
and writers of this generation, said of Mr. Suttle: "When 
true greatness is remembered, none ranks higher than John 
W. Suttle. Others have gone away and attained greatness. 
He has attained fame at home. 

"This man is small in stature, unique in influence and 
service, and unforgettable as a personality. He is more 
than an ordinary man, because it takes more than an ordi- 
nary man to preach the gospel 65 years, to be the mod- 

10 Canaan in Carolina 

erator of his own Association for forty years, and to be 
elected by popular vote to the office of the presidency of 
the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. 

"He has the qualities of true greatness; he wears his 
heart on the outside. He has an unalloyed soul. People 
throughout have followed him instinctively, he is a man — 
a man's man, and a natural-born leader. He has the happy 
faculty of being at home with both the high and the low, 
the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated. 
He speaks his convictions, but has the humility of a child. 
He speaks with ready wit, direct approach, sound philos- 
ophy, convincing logic, poignant truths, apt illustrations, 
and practical application. 

"Think of the service he has rendered, the sermons and 
addresses he has made, the funerals he has conducted, the 
marriages at which he has officiated, the sorrowing he has 
comforted, the lives he has inspired, the hope and confi- 
dence he has instilled, the souls he has won and the thou- 
sands of tasks he has done in a simple manner. He has 
exultant joy in those who have gone out from his churches 
to preach, to be missionaries, and to be Christian leaders 
in all parts of the world. Through these, his influence 
encircles the earth. 

"Here indeed is true service and genuine greatness." 

He is truly the epitome of the era, the acme of the age 
of transition of Baptist Churches from nineteenth to twen- 
tieth century methods. 

To simply record the story of such a man is a tremen- 
dous task. To interpret his long life and its contribution 
to the Baptist Denomination and the Christian faith is a 
task impossible. To me it has been a labor of love. 

W. Wyan Washburn, M.D. 
March, 1958 
Boiling Springs, N. C. 


The subject of this book — John William Suttle, age 
86 — has linked together four distinct eras throughout his 
life and the course of his 65 year ministry as a "country 

1872-1882 — Ten years of boyhood were spent in the 
poverty stricken confusion of post Civil 
War reconstruction with the social and 
religious upheaval which attended that era. 
1882-1917 — For 35 years while he was maturing, he 
observed the forces of empire building in 
the North, the West, and the South, and 
saw a gradual decline in the Victorian ele- 
ments of life up to the eve of World War I. 
1917-1945— For 28 years after World War I, he ob- 
served recession, prosperity, depression, ex- 
pansion and the world-wide conflict known 
as World War II. 
1945-1956 — The last war ushered in the Atomic Age 
which was ten years old at his retirement. 
All aspects of life have been quickened to 
the tempo of the jet propelled airplane and 
the explosion of uranium and hydrogen 
As a child, bathed and fed by former slaves, he later 
became the pastor and a member of churches where cer- 
tain Negroes were welcomed members. He then passed 
through a half century of complete segregation of white 
and colored races in the churches of North Carolina to a 
time when the Supreme Court said separation is unlawful, 
at least in the public schools and on public buses. 

No integrationist or segregationist per se, Brother John 
says, "Give us enough time and the Lord will help us to 
work out our problems of race in building the Kingdom 
of God." 

Baptists had been a separate and distinct group in Eng- 

12 Canaan in Carolina 

land and in America two hundred years before John was 
born. They were known as General Baptists and held gen- 
eral councils or assemblies consisting of bishops, elders and 
brethren. Missionary Baptists claim to be the main stem 
of these General Baptists and have multiplied to such pro- 
portions that present membership is far greater than all 
other Baptist groups combined. 

The North Carolina Baptist State Convention was or- 
ganized in 1830, and as pioneers pushed to the West, new 
churches and new associations were formed. The Southern 
Baptist Convention was organized in 1845 and extended 
its program of Home Missions over the South and the 
settled communities of the West. 

Among the bigger Baptist names on the tongues of 
people in this section when Brother John was born were 
the names of Samuel Wait, first field worker for the North 
Carolina Convention and first president of Wake Forest 
College; Thomas Meredith, early Convention leader; W. 
M. Wingate and T. H. Pritchard of Wake Forest; Richard 
Furman, founder of Furman University; and Luther Rice 
and Morgan Edwards of the Northern Baptist Convention. 

In the few years after the Civil War not only Baptists 
but all Southerners were prostrate, divided, poor, needy, 
suffering; and yet, were patient, cheerful and ready to 
labor. Foreign Missions began after the war, in 1870, first 
to Brazil and then to Italy. 

In 1898, Brother John had been preaching eight years, 
was himself a State Missionary, and had two children when 
the various Baptist bodies in North Carolina were consol- 
idated with the then sixty-eight-year-old Baptist State 

Prior to that time North Carolina was considered a 
part of the Mission Field of the American Baptist Mission 
Society, whose headquarters was in Philadelphia, Pennsyl- 

Dr. Isaac Taylor Tichenor, the first Secretary of the 
Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 
was one of the first men Brother John met at some of the 

Introduction 13 

early meetings of that board. 

Although the Baptist Sunday School Board, as we know 
it now, is younger than John's ministry, it is also true that 
there had been a publication society in Charleston, South 
Carolina, and in 1851 a Bible Board in Nashville, Ten- 
nessee. These groups prepared and printed for the Con- 
vention the widely circulated "Kind Words" series. 

Intense rivalry was the order of the day in the late 90's 
between Southern and Northern Baptists, especially be- 
tween the new Sunday School Board and the American 
Baptist Publication Society. During and after the Civil 
War, the North had been permitted to publish virtually 
all religious literature used by Baptists in the South until 
after the organization of the Sunday School Board. 

It was many years before Brother John was able to get 
Southern literature used in all his churches. 

On April 1, 1896, the Sunday School Board reviewed 
a proposition by the Northerners to publish even more 
literature, but to share the profits with the South. Dr. 
Tichenor wrote, "We cannot accept your proposition, 
deeming such an alliance neither desirable nor feasible. 
We have no thought whatever in surrendering the work 
entrusted to us by the Southern Baptist Convention. 
Under the blessings of God our work has had in these five 
years a success almost phenomenal and altogether without 
precedent in Baptist circles. . . ." 

At the time John decided to be a Baptist preacher he 
could have been one of four different and distinct types: 

A Campbellite, whose founder, Alexander Campbell, 
wanted to build the church on historicity and apostolicity. 

A Landmarker, whose proponents formulated and gave 
momentum to a Baptist type of High-Churchism. The 
leading champion of Landmarkism was J. R. Graves of 

A Hardshell, or Anti-mission Baptist, whose chief pro- 
ponets were Daniel Parker and John Taylor. 

A Missionary Baptist, or the main branch of Arminian 
Baptists whose standard bearers had been Roger Williams 

14 Canaan in Carolina 

and Luther Rice, who proved they believed in missions by 
becoming missionaries. 

John chose the role of Missionary Baptist minister, and 
time has proved he made the right decision. 

The following table shows the phenomenal growth and 
progress of Missionary Baptists both in North Carolina 
and within the bounds of the Southern Baptist Convention 
from 1890 to the year after John ended his ministry. 

1890 1955 

N. C. S. B. C. N. C. S. B. C. 

Churches 1,419 16,091 3,191 29,899 

Members 135,724 1,235,908 807,667 8,169,491 
















Gifts, Mission 





Gifts per capita 





Gifts per capita 





Gifts per capita 





Social upheavals have attended this upsurge and expan- 
sion of the Baptist faith. 

The United States has been involved in the War with 
Spain, two World Wars, and several uprisings and police 
actions since John became a minister. 

Prohibition of the use of alcohol has had its ups and 
downs, ins and outs in the nation. 

Living through 22 presidential elections, Brother John 
has seen the fortunes of the Democrats and Republicans 
wax and wane at the national polls and has voted in all 
those elections since he was 21. 

He has seen the national debt rise from a few million 
to upwards of three hundred billion dollars, with tre- 
mendous sums of state, municipal, and private debts con- 
tracted in addition. 

Introduction 15 

Baptists have been subjected to the pressures of en- 
croachment by social planners and champions of the 
welfare state. 

Life has become almost too complicated to imagine. 

Through this revolution and these great changes, this 
one man, whom we shall know in this book as Brother 
John, watched from the sidelines, marched with the war- 
riors in battle, preached to thousands from the pulpit, and 
shouted from the mountaintop that "Christ is the An- 
swer"; that the narrow Way of the Cross is the only way 
to peace and security and the only hope for Eternal Sal- 

His life has been a journey, a pilgrimage to the Prom- 
ised Land. Through the "wilderness", leading his people, 
he has come. He now stands "On Jordan's Stormy Banks" 
where he can clearly see the wide, extended plains of a 
Christian minister's Canaan ... in Carolina. 


I am deeply indebted to many people for assistance in 
gathering material for this book, to others for helping 
shape and write it. 

First, to Brother John for patiently going over his life 
a chapter at a time, spelling out the details as well as 
noting the landmarks; and to Mrs. Suttle, without whose 
scrapbooks and mementos, writing the book would have 
been impossible. 

To all pastors of the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run 
Baptist Associations; to all of Suttle's "Sons in the Min- 
istry", to the late Dr. R. C. Campbell for correspondence 
and evaluation; to Dr. E. B. Lattimore, Suttle's family 
physician for half a century; to Mrs. Lula Shaver, the 
Reverend J. Boyce Brooks and the Reverend L. D. Munn 
of Stanly County; to Mrs. Robert Barbour, Honorable 
R. E. Batton and the Reverend Larry Mayo of Smithfield, 
N. C. ; to J. Bryan Creech of Four Oaks, N. C; to Clar- 
ence Griffin of Forest City, N. C; to Dr. G. W. Paschal 
of Wake Forest, N. C; to Dr. W. W. Barnes of Fort 
Worth, Texas, for historical references; to the late John 
R. Logan for information concerning Baptists in Pied- 
mont North Carolina prior to 1880; to Tim Hord and 
Hubert Carlisle for assistance with photography. 

To Senator Lee B. Weathers, Shelby publisher and au- 
thor, for valuable advice and counsel. To Mrs. Ruby 
Flowers Washburn and Mrs. Dorothy Washburn Hamrick 
of Boiling Springs for proofreading, and the Reverend 
C. O. Greene of Lawndale for counsel and advice. 

Most especially to Mrs. Othello Cabe Traywick, my 
secretary, typist and researcher, who spent more time than 
anyone else sifting the events of 85 years to bring out 
the salient facts in the life of Brother John Suttle. 

And to my wife, Emily, for great forbearance and un- 
derstanding of this task. 



Age 13 
Redheaded and Mischievous 


How To Rob A Crow's Nest 

"Good Morning to You" 

When I was a child, I spake as a child. 
I Corinthians 13: 11a 

"How old are you, son?" 

Little John Suttle who looked even younger than his 
tender eight years, replied almost in a whisper, "I'm eight." 

The time was the summer of 1880; the place, Beaver 
Dam Baptist Church five miles west of Shelby, North 

It was a good meeting. Brother J. M. Bridges, "Big 
Mun" (for Monroe) he was called, was doing the preach- 
ing and there had been many conversions. Now the time 
had come to receive them into the church. 

All were on the front seat and 56 of the 57 had been 
received. Apparently on purpose, the rough-handed, deep- 
voiced country preacher had skipped John and left him 
until the very last. 

"Do I hear a motion to receive this child?" 

There was a deathly silence. 

After more questions and more silence, Brother Neely 


18 Canaan in Carolina 

Green said, "I make a motion he be received." More silence. 
Then a hesitant second by a close relative and the youngest 
member ever taken at Beaver Dam was looking forward 
to his baptism. 

Thus John William Suttle, the child, became John the 
Baptist; later, "Reverend" J. W. Suttle. He is widely 
known as "Hoppin' " John for his well known limp; or 
"The Little Preacher" because he weighs less than a hun- 
dred pounds; "Parson" Suttle by his colored friends; and 
simply "John" by his wife. 

After nearly four score years of being a Christian, 65 
of which were spent in the ministry as pastor of 37 rural 
churches in North and South Carolina, his thousands of 
friends, associates and acquaintances know him affection- 
ately as "Brother John". 

By birth and later by choice, Brother John has always 
been associated with country people, country ways, and 
country conditions. The people of Cleveland and Ruther- 
ford counties three-quarters of a century ago were not 
simply uneducated, unlearned, and unintelligent country 
hicks. Instead, they were poor, uneducated, but highly 
intelligent rural people who learned quickly, who knew 
how to make a living, and who were endowed with an 
unusual amount of common sense. One definition of com- 
mon sense is "uncommonly good sense". 

Most of the residents of this section were descendants 
of hardy pioneer stock; namely of English, Scotch-Irish, 
and German ancestry. They were not born to the manor 
as were their South Carolina neighbors from Charleston; 
nor were they the landed gentry from the eastern North 
Carolina plains. Most of them came to this section around 
the middle of the eighteenth century. Many of them were 
a part of the general migration from the area of Lancaster 
County, Pennsylvania, being first and second generation 

While Daniel Boone's father and friends were settling 
on the Yadkin River, the Suttles, Hamricks, McSwains, 

How to Rob a Crow's Nest 19 

Washburns, Greens, Blantons, and other pioneer families 
were hacking roads through the wilderness of the Pied- 
mont. They then built their cabins in the center of a 
clearing and set out to rear their families. None of them 
were wealthy; in fact, most of them were poor but willing 
and able to work — fiercely independent, loyal and faithful, 
Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian, staunchly good citi- 

Life was simple but hard. The main crops were corn 
and wheat, both being used as food for the pioneer family 
and feed for the animals around the farm. A small garden 
provided vegetables in season and many fruits and wild 
berries were gathered from the nearby woods. 

Corn bread and "hoe cake", along with salt pork, dried 
beef, dried fruits and vegetables were the main ingredients 
of the diet. Only coffee, matches, and occasionally sugar 
were brought from the outside. The early settlers raised 
their own tobacco and sheared their sheep for wool to 
make their simple clothes. They made shoes from the hides 
of animals slaughtered for meat. In fact, they lived at 
home in such a simple fashion, with such independence, 
with such skill at improvising, that the economy of the 
rest of the country seldom affected the pattern. 

By the time John was born and during his early man- 
hood, cotton had come to replace tobacco as the money 
crop. There were only two cotton gins in Cleveland 
County in those days, but they were crude affairs and most 
cotton seeds were being extracted by the old-fashioned 
simple method of picking out the seed by hand. A later 
method, invented by Eli Whitney, sawed the seeds out of 
the lint. 

Both cotton and wool were carded and spun into thread, 
which in turn was made into cloth on old-fashioned looms. 
All of these operations were crude, very slow, and done 
by hand. Simple dyes made from the bark of trees, butter- 
nuts, walnut hulls, elderberries, or washed from the various 
clay formations, added a little color to the drabness of 
handmade garments. In addition to cotton and grains, 

20 Canaan in Carolina 

sorghum was one of the staple foods. From this plant the 
early settler made molasses. Molasses was made by crush- 
ing the sorghum cane, extracting the juice, then by use 
of a large kettle or a broad pan, boiling the juice for sev- 
eral hours to produce a succulent syrup. This "sweeten- 
ing" took the place of sugar and was used to sweeten coffee 
and preparations of milk; that was all the housewife had 
to sweeten her cake. 

A large flat sweet cake made from molasses, flour, and 
occasionally a little ginger, was known as a "hasty-dog". 
Why that name I do not know. Perhaps it was because 
if ever any was left over, the pioneer's old hound dogs 
would come for it quicker than they would for a cake of 
corn bread. 

Roads were merely rutted trails up and down the hills 
from one place to another. There were two main roads 
in Cleveland County. One ran through the county by 
way of Shelby to Rutherfordton going from east to west. 
The other was a north-south road known as the "post 
road", passing in the vicinity of the Elizabeth Community 
just east of Shelby. Over this road couriers carried the 
mail from Morganton to York, South Carolina, and on to 
Charleston. Travel was either by carriage, wagon, horse- 
back or foot. 

In the winter even the best roads became quagmires and 
came to be well nigh impassable. There were no public 
schools, but occasionally a man or woman of some educa- 
tion would hold a subscription school from two to three 
months during the year. Parents would pay a small sum 
to the teacher to teach his child for these few weeks. 
School houses were log cabins, rough and crude and poorly 
heated. The lighting was poor with no windows at all, or 
occasionally an open window across which a piece of oiled 
paper was stretched to let in some light. Benches were 
rough and usually were of handsawed boards held up by 
legs stuck at angles in auger holes. 

Very little furniture adorned the room, and it was made 
by hand. Boys and girls carried their slates and slate pen- 

How to Rob a Crow's Nest 21 

cils and a small lunch box. In the lunch box were portions 
of the simple fare that the family had at home. There was 
probably a biscuit with a piece of meat or baked potato 
or some home-grown fruit. A great many youngsters took 
only two or three large size biscuits and a little bottle of 
molasses. They would punch a hole in the biscuit with 
their finger then pour the hole full of molasses and enjoy 
their lunch. 

Homework and reading had to be done mostly in day- 
light since in John's early boyhood lighting was very poor. 
Kerosene lamps were just beginning to be used and the 
carbide and electric lights were still in the future. 

Much of the instruction was done at home with mothers 
and fathers imparting whatever education they had to the 
children. There were very few schools of higher learning; 
that is, schools beyond the grammar grades. These were 
called academies and were often a combination of military 
and prep school. In a county where now we have four- 
teen high schools and a junior college, in Mr. Suttle's boy- 
hood there was only one such military and prep school, 
operated by Captain W. T. R. Bell. He was a former 
officer in the Civil War and was very strict in carrying out 
the discipline he thought necessary to education. 

Sometimes the Board of Education was a heavy pine 
board which, when applied to the right portion of the 
anatomy, both stimulated education and brought the de- 
sired discipline. 

There was little social life for the youngsters in John's 
family aside from the family gathering, going to church, 
and occasionally making the long wagon trip to see their 
Rutherford County kin folks. In the fall and winter, how- 
ever, there was little travel and only an occasional corn 
shucking or molasses pulling for the younger folk. His 
family did not encourage attendance at the barn dances 
or some of the more worldly forms of entertainment. 

Young John was accustomed to hearing many of the 
tales of the old Civil War veterans including his father, 
his uncles, and a number of the county's most prominent 

22 Canaan in Carolina 

citizens. Some had returned safe and sound while others 
came back minus a leg or an arm or a lung, and all had 
experiences which could thrill any young boy. Not only 
was John given stories of the war, but he was regaled with 
numerous legends concerning Indians, pioneers, trappers, 
mountain men of the West, Ku Kluxers, and bad men of 
every sort. 

Farmers, slaves, and servants of his own household kept 
him fully informed about the ghosts and spirits which 
inhabited the area. Signs and superstitions were much 
more common in his youth than now; perhaps because the 
general educational level was quite low. 

In spite of the tales and superstitions, the Suttle family 
dwelt in a sense of reasonable security. Father Suttle al- 
ways owned his own land, lived in a fairly substantial 
house, had a little better than average income, and was 
related to the county's best families. From his front porch, 
John could see to the north and west the towering peaks 
of the Blue Ridge and even closer the Casar and the South 
Mountains. To know that these mountains always were 
there and were the fountain sources of the streams which 
came through Cleveland County, added no little portion 
to a sense of security. 

John's first experience at school was in the Sharon Com- 
munity. In those days education was very limited. He 
and his brothers and sisters were taught in a little school 
house which Father Suttle had built on the farm. Neigh- 
boring children also attended the school which was con- 
ducted by a teacher who lived in the Suttle home. Hours 
were from eight to four and the term usually lasted four 
months. His earliest teacher was Miss Sallie Webb, aunt 
of Miss Selma Webb who taught school in Cleveland 
County for over fifty years. She later became the mother 
of Attorney Pat McBrayer. She was the sister to the late 
Hatcher N. Webb and was married to the late Dr. Evans 
McBrayer. He recalls her as being so gentle, so interested 

How to Rob a Crow's Nest 23 

in children, and so easy to cry if everything didn't go just 

Later the children walked a little over a mile to the 
Sharon School, a log building in which had been placed 
rough slab seats with no backs. There were no blackboards, 
no chalk, no glass windows; only the crudest of furniture 
and a very simple wood burning stove. 

Much of John's early education and the only formal 
education many of his contemporaries received was from 
the blue back spellers. 

This elementary spelling book by Noah Webster, Lid., 
was printed by the American Book Company in 1880. 
Compared with books today it was cheap, poorly bound, 
had no pictures or illustrations, and only one advertise- 
ment; that was of Webster's International and collegiate 
dictionary. Very few people in Cleveland County had a 

However, the speller did contain a complete analysis 
of all the sounds in the English language. It contained the 
keys to pronunciation, excellent demonstrations of phonics 
and illustrations of how to make all the letters and all the 
numbers of the alphabet both in the old English forms 
and in the new and very beautiful flowing script. 

Men and women who were educated in nothing but 
Webster's spelling book and later McGufTey's reader, basic 
mathematics, and the Bible, were considered to be well 

It may be that the failure to use the simple principles 
in this old blue back speller in our modern schools is one 
of the reasons "why Johnny can't read". 

Webster began teaching the child to read by some very 
familiar sentences such as "She fed the old hen." He later 
added, "Ann can hem my cap." He then began to add sen- 
tences with moral connotations like "Strong drink will 
debase a man", or "Idle men often delay till tomorrow 
things that should be done today", or "Good men obey 
the laws of God". 

From time to time he would introduce basic economics. 

24 Canaan in Carolina 

"A dollar is worth a hundred cents" and then added, "One 
hundred cents are worth a dollar". There is some question 
in the minds of our economists today as to just how much 
a dollar is worth. In those days the scholar owned his own 
slate and pencil and his own books. Webster said, "Good 
boys will use their books with care." 

The young student was directed to study anatomy; "We 
move our limbs at the joints", and "Men get their growth 
before they are thirty". 

He learned of women. "Girls are fond of fine beads to 
wear around their necks." 

Throughout the entire book were numerous lessons in 
spelling. There were lists of the most common words 
broken into syllables and accented for proper pronuncia- 

John was five years old when Alec, a Negro hired man, 
and the mules were drowned. 

One day his father sent the oldest and most trusted col- 
ored man to Shelby to buy supplies for the tenants. Alec 
was driving four mules to a wagon. He got to town, bought 
the provisions and started home. All went well until some- 
one saw him riding into Broad River, which he had to 
ford. He was on one of the lead mules' back and seemed 
unconscious of his peril until the water was up to his 

When he jumped off the mule and swam across the river 
and caught some bushes, a farmer who witnessed the scene 
called to Alec to come on out because he could not do any- 
thing for the mules as the river had risen and was very 
swift from the recent rains. He had crossed the bridge 
going to town. Alec turned the bush loose and swam back 
just as the two front mules went down. He tried to cut 
the other two loose but went down with them. 

Father Batie was quite a distance from the house when 
Mother heard the news. She was so nervous she could not 
blow the dinner horn which was a signal of distress unless 
blown at mealtime. She had to call one of the servants, a 

How to Rob a Crow's Nest 25 

dwarfed, bow-legged Negro boy. John said he stood on 
the gate to listen. "Such a shriek as that blast was! It 
literally rent the air," he said. When Father hastened 
home, he said he was sure one of the children had fallen 
into the well. When told what had happened, he paced the 
corridor for some time. 

Finally he stopped and said, "I don't mind losing the 
wagon and the mules. If only Alec had not drowned." 

With a twinkle in his eye, John recalls investigating a 
crow's nest at the age of eight. He had successfully climbed 
a forty-foot pine and had discovered two or three precious 
crow eggs and also had discovered that climbing down a 
tree with the eggs was not going to be as easy as climb- 
ing up. 

It became a rather urgent matter to get down quickly 
because mama and papa crow were angrily swooping in 
to investigate the "animal" that was robbing their nest. 
Little John carefully slipped the eggs into his blue blouse 
which was drawn around his waist with the stylish puck- 
ering string. That would be a nice place to carry the eggs, 
he thought. 

Then forgetting the eggs and only thinking of getting 
down, he pressed his chest to the trunk of the tree and 
slid down. On reaching the ground he discovered he had 
one of the nicest messes of scrambled crow eggs he could 
imagine. Then and there he resolved that never again 
would he rob a crow's nest. 

He grew up in the dark days just following the Civil 
War when the Yankees were trying to reconstruct the 
South. His father had been in the infantry under Captain 
Jim Wells of Cleveland County. His Uncle George Wray 
had gone into the service and supplied his own horse. After 
Appomattox, his father with three other Cleveland County 
men abandoned their horses in Virginia, since they were 
too poor and weak to ride, and walked all the way to 
Shelby. Mr. Suttle's immediate family missed the wars. 
None of his brothers was ever in service. However, his 

26 Canaan in Carolina 

grandson, Billy Joe Erwin, had just finished a term in serv- 
ice; and another grandson, Joe Cabaniss, was in World 
War II. 

There was still a lot of talk about Ku Klux when Suttle 
was a little boy. His father joined the Klan but was never 
on a raid. Of the Klan he said, "They did a lot of good, 
but they went too far." 

Who Spilled The Molasses? 

"O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee" 

When I became a man, I put away childish things. 
I Corinthians 13: lib 

"Hitch the mules to the wagon, John. We'll drive down 
to Little Egypt today to get a little corn. This is the driest 
weather I ever remember." 

Thus father Suttle addressed John one fall morning in 
the early 80's after the driest summer Cleveland County 
had ever known. It had not rained enough in six months 
to put a season in the ground. Crops were planted but 
virtually nothing came up. Only in the lowest bottom 
land did corn get big enough to put on an ear. 

Buffalo Creek, about eight miles east of Shelby, had a 
broad fertile valley which in ordinary times would grow 
twice as much of anything as any other land and even in 
a severe drought would grow a little corn. For years it 
had been known as "Little Egypt" because the farmers 
there always had some corn and other grain. 

This year all of the small streams, many of the wells, 
and all except the boldest springs had dried up. Not until 


28 Canaan in Carolina 

early winter did enough rain fall to fill up the cracks in 
the stream beds all over the county. 

With the same farm wagon, young John from time to 
time hired himself out for hauling jobs. On one occasion 
he contracted to haul brick from the old Hendrick farm 
about a mile northwest of the court square to be used in 
building the store where his cousins, the Wrays, now op- 
erate a department store. 

The brick were being made and kilned on the farm now 
owned by Mr. and Mrs. Earl Meacham on Lee Street. They 
had to be picked up one at a time and placed carefully in 
the wagon. 

One morning the owner of the brick yard was away and 
his wife was left to count the brick. She would not let 
the boys load the wagon until she counted every brick. 
For one load she was in the house and Suttle and his friend 
loaded the wagon anyway. 

"You lazy boys just as well unload every one of them 
brick so I can count them," she said. However, young 
John stood his ground and told her that he had stacked 
them up in rows and it would be actually easier to count 
by fives and tens instead of the usual ones. This she finally 
agreed to do. 

In the same wagon the Suttle family occasionally visited 
the Rutherford kinfolks. These trips would sometimes 
take two or three days or as long as a week. Rutherfordton 
was merely the adjoining county seat, but 25 or 30 miles 
over muddy, rutted roads in a wagon that poked along at 
from two to five miles per hour took a great deal of time. 

One of the places he best remembers is the home place 
of Aunt "Sooky" Young. He also visited at the home of 
Max and Bess Gardner, who were grandchildren of Mrs. 
Young. Mr. Suttle's mother and Max Gardner were first 
cousins. G. W. Wray was a brother to Mrs. Young. He 
also visited an Uncle John Blanton at Forest City and 
another uncle, M. A. Suttle. The roads were usually muddy 
or dusty but in spite of the poor travel he always enjoyed 
the trip. 

Who Spilled the Molasses? 29 

Among relatives, one of his keenest recollections is of 
his Uncle James Wray, his mother's brother. Mr. Wray 
was a farmer and later worked for the town of Shelby and 
was in charge of all labor by convicts. He moved to 
Greensboro, where he lived until his death. For many, 
many years he was the official handshaker at the front 
door of the First Baptist Church in Greensboro. Mrs. 
Maggie Wiseman of Greensboro is a daughter. 

One of John's more prominent cousins was the late 
R. R. Haynes of Cliffside, a textile and organizing genius 
who built a multi-million dollar empire in the late 90's 
and the early part of the 20th century. His grandmother 
Suttle was also a first cousin to the late C. J. Hamrick, a 
pioneer merchant and philanthropist of Boiling Springs. 

In the middle 80's the economic outlook in the little 
village of Shelby was poor indeed. So at the age of 14, 
Father Suttle thought it best that John go to Ridgeway, 
South Carolina, to spend some time with Uncle Charles 
Wray and learn the mercantile business. This he agreed 
to do at the munificent salary of $8.33 per month plus 
room and board. 

His days as a merchant apprentice of South Carolina 
were numbered to thirteen months when he concluded 
that he would need more education if he were going to 
be successful at anything. It may be that the affair with 
the molasses had something to do with his decision. 

One cold morning when he opened up the store, the 
entire storage room was covered with molasses. Uncle 
Charles arrived a few minutes later and in a brisk way 
questioned each clerk. "Who did this? How did this hap- 
pen? Who left the stopper out of the barrel?" 

John remembered the last customer on the previous 
night wanted molasses. Uncle Charles had waited on him 
and perhaps in his haste had failed to insert the peg tight 
enough to hold the molasses in the barrel. This particular 
uncle was very exact, very cautious, and very correct in 
every little detail. When he finally saw that the finger of 
suspicion pointed to him, he sent the clerks about their 

30 Canaan in Carolina 

business, hired a boy to clean the floor and from that day 
on never mentioned molasses again. 

Back home in Shelby, John entered the military school 
of Captain W. T. R. Bell. John has strong memories of 
Captain Bell and another teacher in the school known as 
Professor P. J. King. Military type schools were popular 
in that day since a great number of teachers had been mili- 
tary men in the Civil War. Captain Bell had an impressive 
military bearing, and Professor King was known for his 
ability as a disciplinarian. On several occasions he had been 
known to whip grown men. 

"I believe younger children were rougher and more apt 
to fight and engage in some sort of devilment and pranks 
than in our present schools," says John. 

"For instance, one day two of my friends, Ab and Los 
Harrill, took a tombstone out of the cemetery and set it 
on the lawn of Dr. L. N. Durham, a dentist. Then, they 
removed the dentist's professional sign and attached it to 
the tombstone. On another occasion they took Professor 
King's buggy apart and left the vehicle entirely disas- 

"I think one of the funniest things that ever happened 
in Shelby was the night some pranksters took a calf to 
school and tied his tail to the bell rope. No one in town 
knew why the school bell was ringing until finally some- 
one got to school early the next morning and found the 
poor, scared, witless calf ringing the bell with all his might 
and, no doubt, wondering who was holding him by the 

During these early years of working and learning and 
growing, John had some strange stirrings deep down in 
his soul. He remembered the tales about the wonderful 
ministry of his grandfather and of his relatives, the preach- 
er Webbs, and he also was thrilled to the very depth when 
he heard sermons by Tommy Dixon and G. W. Rollins. 
Late one night after finishing his instructions at Captain 
Bell's school, he made a decision. After much deliberation 

Who Spilled the Molasses? 31 

and prayer and talking with his mother, he decided to 
preach. At the age of seventeen in 1889, he was licensed 
to preach. 

John considered several schools but finally decided upon 
the Southern Baptist Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, 
and hopefully packed his trunk for the longest journey 
he had ever taken. There were no automobiles in that day 
so he made the trip by train in early fall. 

He doesn't remember much about all of his teachers 
but he was greatly impressed by Dr. John A. Broadus, at 
that time head of the Seminary; by Dr. Basil Manly, by 
Dr. F. H. Kerfoot, by Dr. W. H. Whitsitt, and by Dr. 
John R. Sampey. 

In Louisville he began preaching and was assigned to a 
little mission church at 17th and Main. This church is 
now one of the fine Baptist churches of that great metro- 
politan center. 

One night one of his fellow students became ill and had 
to go to the hospital. He had a nurse, but some of the 
students were allowed to sit with him also. John was talk- 
ing to the nurse and thought she acted a little bit different 
from the girls he had known in Shelby. After the con- 
versation proceeded, he discovered that she was a Catholic 
and was studying to become a nun. She had been disap- 
pointed in love and had taken up nursing to substitute for 
her sorrow. 

"I advised her not to 'jump out of the frying pan into 
the fire' and further advised her to slip away and not let 
a broken heart ruin her life. She did go to another city 
and I understand married well and apparently was very 

One evening after class John got back to his room a 
little earlier than usual. He was surprised to see a man's 
foot sticking out from under the bed. He grabbed a pistol 
from the dresser drawer of his roommate and commanded 
the intruder to come out. "I marched him out into the 
street expecting to find an officer but there was no officer 
in sight. I marched him on down to the corner and still 

32 Canaan in Carolina 

didn't see an officer. I gave him a chance to run, which 
he did. I honestly don't know which of us was the most 

In the spring of 1891, with two years of Seminary train- 
ing under his belt, John returned to Shelby to begin his 
long career in the ministry. He had just turned 19 when 
a presbytery met in the First Baptist Church on the first 
Sunday in May, 1891, at 3:00 P.M. to examine and ordain 
him. Young ministers today would wonder if they were 
well prepared to preach after they had received only the 
equivalent of two years in high school and two years in 
the Seminary with no college training whatever. Be that 
as it may, even this much education was far ahead of the 
people John was to preach to and was considerably more 
than the average preacher in rural North Carolina had at 
that time. 

The certificate of ordination read, "We, the under- 
signed, hereby certify that at a council convened at the 
call of the First Baptist Church in Shelby, North Carolina, 
and after satisfactory examination in regard to his Chris- 
tian experience, call to the ministry and views of Bible 
Doctrine, we solemnly and publicly set apart and ordained 
John W. Suttle to the work of the Gospel Ministry, on the 
Sunday of May 6, 1891, at three o'clock in the afternoon." 
This simple statement was signed by the Reverend J. A. 
Sproles, Moderator; T. K. Barnett, Secretary; the Rev- 
erend Tom Dixon, the Reverend J. M. Bridges, the Rev- 
erend G. M. Webb, and the Reverend R. L. Limbrick 
(Limerick) . 

A number of other ministers, laymen, and friends of 
the family were present for this very simple but heart 
warming ceremony and after the hands were laid on, the 
charge given, and the Bible presented, he remembers that 
a big deacon, genial and warm hearted J. Y. Hamrick, 
grasped his hand and said, "Now, John, you be a preacher 
of the great gospel." Deacon Hamrick's sons, grandsons, 
and great-grandsons have been living witnesses at Boiling- 
Springs, Double Springs, and Beaver Dam, that John 






Who Spilled the Molasses? 33 

preached a "Great Gospel"; that they, in their Christian 
experience, were benefited by it. 

Baptists in Blacksburg soon heard there was a young 
minister in Shelby available and that although quite young, 
he was a Seminary man. After some investigation of his 
family, background, and qualifications, a call was extended 
to become the pastor at Blacksburg. John drove the fifteen 
miles from Shelby to Blacksburg on Saturday in time for 
the Saturday meeting and would remain there over the 
weekend either in the home of one of his members or 
would drive back up to Grover, where he had relatives 
and friends. When he became established at Blacksburg, 
he accepted once-a-month preaching service at a smaller 
church, El Bethel, located southwest across big Broad 

He also preached at other small churches in that section 
but did not become their regular pastor. 

His wife, Leila — whom he met at Blacksburg — recalls 
that he looked the part of a young minister for that day 
and time. 

"He was a young fellow about 21, just out of school, 
but he looked like he had just come out of a band box and 
appeared to be very important indeed with his high top silk 
beaver hat, sideburns, long tailed coat, cane, dog, and one 
of the finest rubber tired buggies and high spirited horses 
to be found in this part of the country. 

"Such an outfit and such a rig labeled him as the ulti- 
mate among the young ministers." 

In order to give John a little experience, one of his kins- 
men, the Reverend G. M. Webb, asked him to help hold 
a meeting at the Long Creek Baptist Church in Gaston 
County. Here he got the experience of baptizing his first 
convert, a full grown woman by the name of Mrs. Stowe. 
Dr. J. L. Vipperman, a long-time friend of John Suttle, 
is now pastor of this progressive church. 

During the meeting with Brother Webb at Long Creek, 
young John was invited to dinner by a rather eccentric 
woman. He went along and had dinner, a very good din- 

34 Canaan in Carolina 

ner, but he didn't understand exactly why he and no one 
else was invited. 

"Have you finished your dinner, preacher?" she in- 

"Yes, why do you ask?" 

"Don't ask too many questions," she said and continued 
to act a little strangely. 

After he had finally finished and had gotten up from 
the table, he started to get his coat and hat as if to leave. 
"You can't go yet. Come with me." 

"Where are you going?" 

She said not a word except motioned for him to come 
along and started toward the creek. The young minister 
stayed a respectable distance behind this old lady, but she 
kept looking back at him, motioning and urging him to 
come on. 

Finally she got to the creek, then cut down the bank of 
the creek and had to go through some thick bushes and 
woods. He got farther and farther behind and she kept 
urging him to come on and he began to be a little more 
adamant about following. But finally, following at such 
a distance, they came to a clearing, an opening where there 
was a shoal in the creek. 

At this point the woman stopped and let him catch up 
with her. 

He got within five or six feet not knowing at what 
moment she might grab him or make some crazy move. 
She stopped and then her countenance changed, her face 
became very serious and she began to have a few tears in 
her eyes as she pointed to the shoal and to a small pool 
below the shoal and said, "This is where your grandfather, 
Joseph Suttle, baptized me. I was the first person to be 
baptized as a member of this church." 

John then understood the nature of her insistence at his 
coming and not telling him exactly where they were going 
or what they were going to do. After a moment of prayer 
they went back to the house as great friends. 

Who Spilled the Molasses? 35 

At one time while still a very young preacher, John 
accepted the invitation of an old colored woman, whose 
parents had once been slaves of his Grandfather Wray, to 
go to the colored section of Shelby to preach. 

Her name was Sarah Wray and Aunt Sarah was the first 
one at the church. She sat on the front row with all the 
pride of a mother whose prodigal son had just come home. 
She listened intently and with her dusky eyes followed 
every move from the time he reached the platform. By 
the time he had warmed up on his subject, she was en- 
thused. By the time Brother Suttle was two-thirds of the 
way through his sermon, Big Sarah got up and began to 
shout and turned around to the audience, clapped her 
hands, turned her face, glistening with perspiration, to 
the ceiling and shouted to everybody. "Just listen to my 
baby preach about Jesus. Glory Hallelujah." 

Three-quarters of a century ago Shelby was hardly a 
town at all. It was indeed a homey little crossroads village. 
The county was named for Colonel Benjamin Cleveland 
of Revolutionary War fame, and the town itself was 
named for Colonel Isaac Shelby of the same war and who 
fought with Cleveland at the memorable, tide-turning 
battle of Kings Mountain. 

No streets were paved. There were no public utilities, 
no city water or sewer conveniences, although there were 
a few lamps on the main streets which usually were lighted 
after dark. 

Now in his middle 80's, Brother John likes to ride 
through the familiar streets of his home town. On West 
Marion where he lives now, he can see the field in which 
his father used to plant and plow corn. One-half million 
dollars has been invested in a community recreation cen- 
ter; there are swimming pools, swings and rides for the 
kiddies, and back of which is a modern golf course. 

"When I was growing up we got our exercise by swing- 
ing an ax instead of a golf club," he says. 

On this same street are the old family homes of his 
father, Charles Batie; of his mother's people, the J. A. L. 

36 Canaan in Carolina 

Wrays; of his cousin, Dr. O. P. Gardner, father of Gover- 
nor Max Gardner; of Jess McMurry who built a large 
cotton mill; of Clyde R. Hoey who became both governor 
and senator; and of George Blanton, son of a banker, 
brother of a banker, father of a banker and, incidentally, 
a millionaire several times over. 

"The families of all these people did not live in such fine 
houses in the old days, but they were nice enough and were 
as good as any in town," he said. 

Some days he rides out on North Morgan and goes by 
the home place of old Judge Lattimore, which is still occu- 
pied by Lattimore's son, Dr. Everette B. Lattimore. On 
this street also lived several members of the McBrayer fam- 
ily, and "Uncle" Willie Wilson; also it is the traditional 
location of the old Methodist parsonage. 

Just a block east of Morgan is North LaFayette Street, 
where he often visited the home of Dock Suttle. 

"Many a time I would come out to Uncle Dock's just 
to have the fun of drawing water. They had a spring 
away down the hill and a trolley for the bucket to run on. 
The rope and windlass would let the bucket go down the 
hill at least 100 yards and automatically fill up the bucket. 
Then I would draw it back up to the house. In a way it 
was like having a very deep well but it was a little more 
fun than drawing water out of a well." 

Another interesting place on this street was the old 
foundry where the Babingtons melted metals and poured 
them into molds. 

Anywhere he goes, whether early in the morning or late 
afternoon, in the now growing town of 20,000 persons, 
he has only to close his eyes and look back over the decades 
to imagine the childhood scenes in which the Durhams, 
Dixons, Gardners, Hoeys, Webbs, Weathers, and other 
Shelbians of state and national fame romped in the street. 


"Hoppin' John" In Blacksburg, S. C. 

"Somebody stole my gal." 

And another said, I have married a wife 
and, therefore, I cannot come. 

Luke 14:20 

"We are having Hoppin' John for dinner! Hooray, we 
are having Hoppin' John; I'm so glad we are having 
Hoppin' John for dinner!" 

This gleeful announcement was being made in the home 
of Miss Leila Pierson — sixteen, of Blacksburg, South Caro- 
lina — by her younger brother. Her guest for the day was 
John W. Suttle (the Reverend John W. Suttle, that is), 
the new pastor at the First Baptist Church; and not only 
that, but also her fiance. 

"When I heard that boy whooping and hollering about 
'Hoppin' John', I was madder than a hornet. I thought 
he was talking about me. I thought he was being a 'smart 
alec' and making fun of the way I limped. My left leg 
has been shorter than the right leg since I was a little boy, 
and I walk with a sort of a limp and a hop. 

"While I was getting ready to chew that boy's ears off, 
somebody called us to dinner, and I learned that he was 


38 Canaan in Carolina 

not talking about me after all. He was talking about a 
very special Sunday dinner dish at the Pierson home called 
'Hoppin' John'." 

It has long been a very popular dish of the deep South, 
and consists, among other things, of rice and peas, bits of 
chicken or other meat, with a delicious seasoning, and may 
be prepared with either dumplings or crust. 

Home from the Seminary with a trunk full of notes, 
sermon outlines, and his head bursting with ideas for be- 
coming a successful Baptist preacher, John was at Shelby 
only a few days before he was called as pastor of the First 
Baptist Church in Blacksburg. 

At this time Blacksburg was a thriving railroad center, 
being a regional repair and supply station for two large 
and busy railroads. It was one of the principal stops for 
Southern trains between Charlotte and Atlanta, and was 
important in like manner for the CCC Railroad which 
had just been completed. These three C's stood for Charles- 
ton, Columbia and Cincinnati. It was later changed to 
CC and O (Charleston, Columbia, and Ohio) and was 
very important for many years in transporting tremendous 
loads of coal out of the mountains of North Carolina, 
West Virginia, and Kentucky. 

Blacksburg had four saloons and the famed Cherokee 

The Baptist Church in Blacksburg was very small but 
during the first year John was there, twenty-seven mem- 
bers were added. 

For nearly a year John lived at Shelby and drove to 
Blacksburg each weekend for the business meeting and 
worship services. Sometime during that year he became 
acquainted with Leila Pierson, teenage daughter of a 
Southern Railway conductor. 

"Some folks say that a preacher won't steal," but during 
that time he not only dated and courted, but stole, mar- 
ried, and then baptized the girl of his choice and began 

"Hoppin' John" in Blacksburg, S. C. 39 

what has turned out to be one of the longest love affairs of 
Cleveland County. 

Both Mr. and Mrs. Suttle are a bit reluctant to tell about 
the details of this early courtship and marriage but both 
agree that it was love at first sight and that nothing, in- 
cluding her plans to go to college in Georgia, or the tem- 
porary disfavor of her parents at marrying at so tender 
an age, could keep them apart. Mr. Pierson not only did 
not favor her getting married so young, but he was not 
too anxious that she marry a preacher, especially a poor 
Baptist preacher. 

The Piersons were Methodist, very strong believers in 
their faith, and loyal to their own church. However, with 
the aid of several friends a plan was worked out by which 
John got the license, got Leila fives miles away at Grover, 
where they were married by an old friend, the Reverend 
J. L. Sproles. 

The two were married on March 29, 1893, at the home 
of the Reverend Mr. Mullinax. Witnesses were Mr. Suttle's 
brother, Joe L. Suttle; his sister, Irene Suttle; a cousin, 
Maggie Wray; a Dr. G. H. McCubbins, and Gus Bridges. 

Dr. Sproles later helped John in a revival meeting in 
Blacksburg and was a close friend until his death a good 
many years ago. 

While at Blacksburg, the Suttles experienced their first 
"pounding". Many modern-day preachers never get the 
experience of having their members shower them with all 
sorts of gifts, especially food, clothing and household items. 
Since the salary was small it was the custom in that day 
and time to pound the preacher at least once and some- 
times twice a year. 

Members usually tried to keep the pounding a secret but 
many times the efforts to keep the secret gave the plan 
away so the minister or his wife could sort of halfway 
guess what Sunday it was going to be. 

There was always a great deal of excitement when a 
pounding was anticipated or by chance it did come as a 
surprise. The white tablecloth was always put on the din- 

40 Canaan in Carolina 

ing table and there was a lot of sweeping and cleaning, 
putting up fresh curtains and bringing in great loads of 
wood to burn in all the fireplaces. 

At their first pounding the entire congregation came 
about eight o'clock in the evening with their arms full of 
everything imaginable for the family larder and also many 
nice things to wear. Since the new minister had not com- 
pletely furnished his house, the good people at Blacksburg 
this time brought him a set of chairs and a great many 
wedding presents. 

At this particular pounding one big deacon who was 
fond of jokes brought in a big new buggy whip. It was 
really to go in John's buggy but he said in a loud voice 
where everyone could hear, "Now Brother Suttle, I want 
you to use this whip to bring up your family in the admo- 
nition of the Lord." Of course, all the people laughed 
and the poor blushing bride did not know what to say or 
do except blush. That she did profusely. 

The first year they were married John decided he needed 
more deacons in the church so they were voted on. One 
was a bachelor dentist. All went well until one day the 
dentist came to the pastor in great distress. When ques- 
tioned his reply was, "I cannot accept the deaconship, for 
the Bible plainly says a deacon must be the husband of one 

John assured him that it was all right that he did not 
have a wife. He was ordained and made a perfectly splen- 
did deacon. 

While at Blacksburg, Brother John took a part time 
pastorate at a small rural church, El Bethel. This church 
was across big Broad River from Blacksburg, about seven 
or eight miles southwest of Gaffney. It was a considerable 
distance to drive, so John and his bride would ride over 
on Saturday, spend the night and come back Monday. 
Many times they would stay at a lovely old colonial home 
where there was a large family but plenty of room for the 
minister and his wife. Mrs. Suttle remembers a good many 

"Hoppin' John" in Blacksburg, S. C. 41 

things about El Bethel and the trips they used to make once 
a month to that community, but one particular feature 
she will never forget is about the man with so many cats. 

"I was surprised at the first meal to see the head of the 
house pile up a plate just as high as he could stack the 
food and take it up to the hearth and start calling, 'Kitty, 

"I have never seen so many cats. There were gray ones, 
black ones, white ones, red ones, and tabbys. They seemed 
to come from everywhere; from under the bed, from 
under the house, from the barn, from the weeds and trees 
and from all over the place. The family said that was his 
hobby and that he fed all those cats three times a day every 
day in the year. They said he had at least fifty cats and 
that sometimes there were more." 

While living in Blacksburg, the Suttles made frequent 
visits to Shelby. It was only twelve miles and took about 
two hours to drive. Mrs. Suttle recalls on one occasion it 
took a good bit longer since the new horse John had bought 
turned out to be a former delivery horse and every time 
he passed a house the horse thought he was supposed to 

"We soon got rid of this delivery horse and traded for 
a beautiful horse and a rubber tired buggy. We thought 
we were really traveling in style riding on rubber tires 
with good springs. That was a long time before automo- 
biles or airplanes, but I guess it was fast enough for our 

"Now I see planes flying in the air almost as high as the 
distance from Shelby to Blacksburg, and which could 
cover that twelve miles before a man could turn a horse 
and buggy around in the road." 

While he was still pastor at Blacksburg their first child, 
Bertie Lee, was born, on December 31, 1893. For this very 
important occasion John brought his wife to Shelby to his 
father's old home place where Mrs. Suttle could be attend- 
ed by members of his family and by their family doctor, 
the late Dr. Victor McBrayer. There was no hospital, no 

42 Canaan in Carolina 

nurses with white gowns, and no anesthetic, but as Mrs. 
Suttle recalls, the ordeal was not too bad. She had the con- 
solation that she and her new baby had as good care as 
anyone could have. When the little girl was six weeks old 
John had received a call to Albemarle, and so plans were 
made to move the growing family to Stanly County. 

While John was pastor, there was an old character who 
lived near Blacksburg known as "Wild Bill Davis". He 
lived in an old piano box and all his possessions were stored 
in the same box. Winter, summer, rain, or shine, he stayed 
out in the woods with only the old box for shelter. For 
food he ate roots and berries and what little supplies resi- 
dents of the village of Blacksburg would take to him. 

He became such an institution that far and wide he was 
known as the "Wild Man of Blacksburg". People would 
drive for miles and miles to go out into the woods to see 
him and the desolate hovel in which he lived. 

John Blalock of Mooresboro who was one of John 
Suttle's members at Sandy Run was quite a young boy 
when he lived near Blacksburg. One day he went out to 
see Wild Bill and in awe at the sordid surroundings blurted 
out, "Are you a really wild man, Mr. Bill?" Said Bill, "I 
ain't so durned wild as you might think and I ain't half as 
crazy as some of these fools that come to see me." 


Mr. Pickler Breaks A Toe 
In Stanly County 

"Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah" 

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations baptizing them 
in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things what- 
soever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you 
alway, even unto the end of the world. 

Matthew 28:19-20 

Brother Suttle was the first resident pastor of the First 
Baptist Church at Albemarle, although he was the fourth 
pastor since the church was organized. He served from 
1894 through 1897 at an annual salary of $125. When he 
first took the new church there were only 26 members, 
of which all except two were women. In 1897 when he 
resigned to go to Johnston County, the membership had 
increased to 100, of which about half were men and half 
were women. 

One hundred and twenty-five dollars a year was not 
enough to live on even if supplemented by a family cow, 
a couple of pigs and ten acres of land for grazing and 
gardening. John supplemented his income by taking sev- 
eral small churches: Anderson's grove at $50, Kendall's 
at $80, Palmerville at $100, Silver Springs at $80, and 
Union Grove at $20, annually. This was a grand total of 
$375 promised for a year's work. These churches had a 


44 Canaan in Carolina 

total membership of 631 persons, and at that time none 
except Albemarle had meetings more often than once a 

Mrs. Lula Shaver, one of the oldest members of the 
Albemarle Church and a long-time friend and correspond- 
ent of the Suttles, remembers very vividly a number of 
things about his pastorate there. "I remember the first 
time I saw Brother John. He had on a little straw hat 
somewhat like the boys wear today. He worked hard, was 
full of life and humor and was very convincing in his 

"He never threw anything away, and he and his family 
would wear their clothes as long as they were useful and 
then patch them or mend them when it became neces- 
sary. I remember seeing him hauling feed, corn, logs, or 
lumber in his little one-horse wagon. 

"He seemed to have a habit of attending all kinds of 
conventions wherever Baptists assembled. Not only did he 
attend, but he was a leader whether the crowd was large 
or small. 

"He was interested in politics but so far as I know, there 
is no record that he took sides with either Democrats or 
Republicans. He had a good disposition and could get 
along well with everybody. 

"One elderly lady who lives here in Albemarle now re- 
members that when she was a little girl she rode the new 
minister piggy-back, so I assume he must have had a good 

The church at Albemarle did not have a baptistry, so 
Brother John set about to get one constructed. It was 
made just beyond the boundary of the church property 
and was fashioned somewhat like a large tank or boat with 
the boards being tongued and grooved, then caulked and 
waterproofed to hold the water. A man named Frank 
Cooper was hired to haul water from the Efird Manufac- 
turing Company artesian well. The water was run from 
the well to the baptistry in long wooden troughs and were 
so used until 1909 when an iron pipe carried water from 

Mr. Pickler Breaks a Toe in Stanly County 45 

a bored well. A little gasoline engine was used to furnish 
the power until around 1918. 

A good many Baptists have wondered why Albemarle 
erected its church without a baptistry, but one thing was 
certain. Brother John was going to solve the problem and 
baptize all of his new converts by immersion even if he 
had to build the pool out of wood. 

Several misfortunes befell the Suttles while living at 
Albemarle. Young Charles, his son, fell and broke his leg. 
John had a very severe illness which was thought to be 
typhoid fever followed by nervousness and indigestion. 
The oldest daughter also had typhoid and many of the 
neighbors who had been helping the young minister found 
themselves so occupied with their own sick and dying they 
could offer very little help. 

There were no electric lights, no water except from the 
well, no telephone, and no inside bathrooms. Mrs. Suttle 
says, "I remember digging holes in the woods near the 
parsonage to bury any and everything that might cause 
fever to spread. I was afraid from day to day that I, too, 
might come down with it." 

While in Stanly County Mr. Suttle was greatly inter- 
ested in hunting. Most of the time he kept two or three 
beagle hounds which helped him hunt rabbits. He con- 
sidered himself a very good shot. 

One day he had a pet crow which got so pesky the little 
rascal swooped down from the door and got a piece of 
chicken off the plate on the table; it then flew out into the 
yard and lit on a stump to eat it. Brother John said it 
made him so mad he "shot the crow while it was eating 
that piece of chicken." 

From time to time in those days he would go gigging for 
fish and often got enough for Sunday dinner. They were 
so plentiful many times he could gig them without even 
having to get out of his buggy. On one occasion he caught 
a large opossum while coming from the Sunday service. 
Mr. 'possum was up a tree on the side of the road. On 

46 Canaan in Carolina 

other occasions he joined in fox and coon hunts either with 
members or residents of the community. 

Brother John said in Albemarle, as always, he had to 
work for a living. "The most luck I ever had was hard 
work, but I do not consider myself as unlucky as the sales- 
man who was selling fountain pens but was so poor he 
had to write the orders with a pencil." 

Mrs. Suttle remembers some of the more interesting 
details of moving to Albemarle. During the summer of 
1894, John had resigned at Blacksburg after two years of 
successful ministry, to take a pastorate in Florida, but in 
the early part of the summer he became ill with dysentery 
and later decided to accept the call to Albemarle. In order 
to get to Albemarle from Shelby, Mr. Suttle and his family 
had to drive by carriage ten miles to Grover where they 
took the Southern Railroad passenger train to Salisbury. 
After a night in Salisbury, they drove again by horse and 
buggy to Albemarle and arrived late in the afternoon. 

For the first time in her life Mrs. Suttle was alone with 
her baby. In a year and a half after arriving at Albemarle 
she gave birth to her second child, and only son, Charles 
Batie, born July 25, 1895. He was named for his grand- 
father and among his playmates was known as "C. B.". 

With two babies to take care of now, Mrs. Suttle de- 
pended upon the Albemarle neighbors for help. Of some 
of the Albemarle experiences she says, "We were finally 
established in a big old ten-room house but had only enough 
furniture for four rooms. The big house with the big 
rooms and tall ceilings made me feel very lonely at times. 

"The stories about the house made me feel even more 
lonely and apprehensive. There were a great many super- 
stitions connected with this place. Many of them were 
connected with a family of an eccentric old physician who 
once lived there. I understood that most of his family 
had died with typhoid fever. At one time there was a great 
number of handsome old trees around the old house but 
the talk of the community was that the old doctor was so 
distressed about losing his family that he sought to ruin 

Mr. Pickler Breaks a Toe in Stanly County 47 

the beauty of the place before he left. To kill the trees, 
it was said he poured brine about the roots in such quanti- 
ties that they withered and died. 

"One story about this strange old place was that one 
of the residents had some queer ideas about chickens. He 
thought they ought to have sense enough to stay at home. 
He also thought his neighbor's chickens should stay home. 
He made a bargain with this neighbor that if the chickens 
of either of them trespassed upon the other's property, 
they were to be killed at once. He bought some very fine 
high priced chickens and in a few days he happened to 
notice in his stable what he thought was his neighbor's 
chickens. He went back into the house, got his gun, and 
in a rage fired into the group of chickens and killed them 
all. Then he went across the way to tell his neighbor what 
he had done. The neighbor asked him to wait just a min- 
ute while she went out to her own chicken house. After 
a quick inspection she told the old gentleman all her 
chickens were at home. 

"He had killed his own birds by mistake. However, he 
was a good sport and like many doctors, buried his own 
mistake without a word and no one ever heard him men- 
tion chickens again. 

"I understand this old house where we lived has now 
been torn down and that the present beautiful Albemarle 
First Baptist Church stands in its place. 

"As John continued to work here the church grew and 
by the time he had two or three revival meetings, the 
church felt like it could undertake the building of a new 
parsonage. Dr. L. R. Pruitt of Charlotte had helped in 
two meetings and the Reverend M. A. Adams in one. A 
Mr. Cicero Parker gave an acre of land to build a new 
parsonage on. Various land owners and members gave 
logs from their timber. John hauled most of the logs to 
the sawmill with the aid of a half -grown boy. It was then 
sawed into lumber, and members volunteered to do the 
rough carpentering instead of giving money. In fact, 
the members did the complete job of building the house 

48 Canaan in Carolina 

under the direction of a competent carpenter. It was a 
very nice six-room house with a wide hall and a porch 
half way around it. We were very proud when we moved 
into it. 

"A few days after we moved into our new home, I got 
the most severe fright I remember in my life. On a very 
hot day I raised the dining room window to get a little 
extra fresh air. About the time I got the window up I 
saw a big blacksnake raise his head even with the window 
sill looking like he wanted to come in. I let the window 
down much quicker than I raised it. 

"The members also built us a nice big barn where we 
kept our horse and buggy along with the cow, several 
pigs, some rabbits, two beagle hounds and the old pet crow. 

"Shortly after we built the house we had a visitor, a 
very old preacher. He came to wish the new minister well 
and, of course, stayed for dinner. For dessert that day I 
had cake with currants. After dinner I found all the cur- 
rants picked out of his cake and tucked under his plate. 
I have often wondered what he thought they were. Per- 
haps he just didn't like currants. 

"Our next-door neighbors had two children, a girl and 
a boy. One of them would stay with me when John was 
away at night. The boy was big enough to do a little 
plowing for John. He also watered his horse at our well. 
This horse was quite gentle and the children would climb 
all over him or ride him bareback at a full gallop. One 
day while cooking dinner, I heard a great noise in the back 
hall. This boy, Tom, had coaxed his horse into the house 
just for a joke. 

"John was quite ill at one time and the doctor would 
not allow any visitors to see him. However, one very per- 
sistent deacon came one day and insisted on seeing the 
minister and said he would stay only a few minutes. After 
saying 'howdy' his first remarks to John were, 'Well, I 
thought you would have been dead by now'." 

During the four years the Suttles were in Albemarle, 

High in the Hills at Marshall, N. C. 

Mr. Pickler Breaks a Toe in Stanly County 49 

thirty- two persons were baptized, fifty- four others joined 
the church and one was restored. A total of $910.77 was 
donated to benevolence and the pastor received the $500 
promised for four years' service. 

The new parsonage cost a total of $975 in addition to 
the work contributed by the members, and all was paid 
for the first year with the exception of $100 for which 
25 of the brethren gave their notes guaranteeing $4 each 
until that amount was paid. Z. D. Coggins was chairman 
of the Building Committee and was aided by E. C. Bird 
and W. Ashley Tucker, the latter being foreman of con- 

A few years ago when the old parsonage was torn down 
to make way for the new sanctuary, one of the Albemarle 
newspapers carried a picture and a story about the long 
history of the house and editorialized, "With the excep- 
tion of wear and tear little changes have been taking place 
in this structure in which so much joy, happiness, sorrow, 
pain and death have been shared by so many fine people". 

The Reverend J. Boyce Brooks until recently was pastor 
at Albemarle First Church which has nearly 900 members. 
The church last year raised nearly $70,000 for all causes. 
There are seven other Baptist churches in Albemarle whose 
combined membership and gifts far exceed the parent 
church. So much can happen in sixty years. 

A number of rural churches secured the services of Mr. 
Suttle while he was pastor at Albemarle. Most of these 
small, struggling churches had preaching only once a 
month with perhaps a message on Saturday afternoon be- 
fore the regular preaching service. 

Palmerville was one of the strongest and best working 
churches in Stanly County. Professor E. F. Eddings had 
a splendid high school and with a large number of board- 
ing pupils attending. Several of these students joined the 
church during revivals, among whom were Hugh Efird, 
oldest brother in the noted Efird Department Store Chain. 
Another was Claude Sikes of Union County, a brother to 
the late E. W. Sikes, one-time president of Clemson Col- 

50 Canaan in Carolina 

lege. John preached at Palmerville four years, during 
which time thirty persons joined by baptism, two by let- 
ter, with one restored, and gifts for benevolences amount- 
ed to $743.23. 

Kendalls Baptist Church was about eight miles from 
Albemarle and John preached there once a month. In 
1895 the church house was an oblong wooden building 
seating about 250 persons. The membership was quite 
small and attendance poor when he began. There were no 
Sunday School rooms and the various classes grouped 
themselves in different corners of the building so as not 
to disturb each other while teaching. Later they put up 
curtains to simulate classrooms. Of course, the noise was 
just as great, but the pupils could not see each other and 
could not see outside since there were few windows. 

John had a small box Kodak and occasionally took pic- 
tures of his family and church members. One day when 
he was ready to snap the picture of a small Sunday School 
child, the child's older sister stopped him and said, "Papa 
doesn't allow us to have our pictures taken". Brother John 
did not understand why he could not make a picture of 
this nice little girl but later upon visiting in the home, 
found that there was not a photograph or picture of any 
kind in the house. Upon inquiring of the father, he was 
told that the Bible forbids photographs. He then took 
his Bible down and read the passage from Exodus which 
says, "Thou shalt have no graven images before thee". 

John tried to explain to him this verse meant not to 
worship images. He finally let him make the picture not 
only of the child but the entire family. Later when John 
visited again he found the small snapshot along with en- 
larged sizes in every room of the house. 

This same man was opposed to having an organ in the 
church. He said that if one were brought in the front 
door he would go out the back door. He also told Brother 
Suttle, "If you will show me the word organ in the Bible, 
I will not only surrender my views but will give $5 on 

Mr. Pickler Breaks a Toe in Stanly County 51 

a new one". By chance John knew exactly where to turn 
and quickly turned to Psalm 150:6 where it says "Praise 
Him with stringed instruments and organs". As good as 
his word, the man read it and put the $5 bill in John's 
hand. He was a man of deep convictions and once he 
realized he was wrong, was big enough to admit it. It 
wasn't long before the organ was brought into the Kendall 
Church and no one enjoyed it more than this man, for 
he was the leader of the singing. 

While at Kendalls Brother Suttle baptized 45 and re- 
ceived eighteen others by letter and collected the sum of 
$23 5.28, in addition to his salary. 

The character who stands out most in his mind was a 
man named John Miller who was always at the front door. 
He was untalented, not a teacher, could not pray, but he 
could stand at the front door and shake hands with every- 

Silver Springs is about eight miles from Albemarle in 
a different direction from Kendalls. This church house 
was also small and inadequate, but since that time the com- 
munity has grown and a modern sanctuary and Sunday 
School plant now are being used by several hundred mem- 

In 1896, Dr. Bruce Benton helped Brother John with 
a meeting there. Mr. Suttle recalls that several families in 
the church at that time were so enthusiastic with their 
religion that they gave way to the old custom of shouting 
and singing. One hot night during the meeting when a 
large number of the worshipers had "got religion", John 
and Bruce left the pulpit and went out into the yard to 
get a fresh breath of air. They stayed several minutes and 
the shouting went right on. In fact, some of the shouters 
did not even miss the preachers until they were exhausted. 
When things began to quiet down the ministers went back 
in and dismissed the congregation. 

In 1950, Mr. Charles A. Reap, editor of the Albemarle 
Enterprise, published a history of the Silver Springs Bap- 
tist Church, Tyson Township, Stanly County, North 

52 Canaan in Carolina 

Carolina. At that time he indicated that Silver Springs 
had been organized a few years before the Civil War 
through the efforts of the Reverend David Wright of Troy 
and that it was one of the first rural Baptist churches in 
the county. He portrayed the community as being fairly 
typical of Piedmont North Carolina, with the sturdy, 
hard-working pioneer settlers coming in to hew their 
homes out of the wilderness, many times building a small 
church before they built their own home. Among the first 
members at Silver Springs were people named Kimrey, 
Foreman, Mauldin, Turner, Hudson, and Cooper. 

A lovely little brick church with four colonial type col- 
umns and a steeple, with added Sunday School rooms now 
provides the community with above average facilities. 

John preached only a short time at Anderson's Grove 
but during that time held a revival meeting at which he 
baptized 33 persons, received eleven others by letter and 
restored five. The church was organized through the influ- 
ence of a Dr. Anderson for whom it was named and who 
donated the land. 

The Ebenezer Church called John about a year before 
he left Stanly County, and he became acquainted with 
many of the pioneer settlers and families who now live in 
what is known as the Badin Community. The name of 
the church has been changed to Badin, and this town has 
become the location of one of the largest hydroelectric 
power plants in North Carolina, and also the largest center 
of aluminum manufacturing in the state. 

While in Stanly County, Brother Suttle was asked to 
preach a few times at Poplin's Grove, Union Grove, and 
Sardis, all very small churches at that time. All reported 
conversions and baptisms while he was there. 

A few months before he left Albemarle, Mr. Suttle as- 
sisted in the organizing of a Baptist Church at New Lon- 
don and preached there a few times. On one occasion he 
was spending the night with one of his deacons, Brother 

Mr. Pickler Breaks a Toe in Stanly County 53 

Pickler. This good deacon was one of the finest men in 
the county and later had a number of sons and grandsons 
to become brilliant students at Wake Forest College. 

Mr. Pickler had one failing. He talked in his sleep. In 
fact, he did a great many things in his sleep. He fed the 
geese, fed the cows, fed the hogs, hoed the garden, and 
did all of the farm chores in his sleep. On the night Brother 
Suttle stayed with him, Mr. Pickler went right off to sleep 
and forthwith began his chores. When he proceeded to 
kick the hogs out of the way, his foot rammed full force 
into the wall, whereupon he broke his big toe. 

Mr. Suttle always was insistent that older people in the 
church consider seriously the wishes and beliefs of younger 
children. He tells the story of little Bessie Pickler, six years 
old, at Albemarle. Little Bessie had come to the mourn- 
er's bench with more than a dozen other candidates. She 
was not crying, mourning, or wringing her hands, but her 
face was radiant and she told him that she loved the Lord 
and wanted to be a church member. 

When he called for acceptance by the church members 
of the new list of candidates, he left little Bessie until the 
very last, then told the congregation, "I didn't leave Bessie 
until the last because I do not believe in bringing children 
into the church, but because I wanted you to hear her 
story". Then he asked Bessie to tell about her belief and 
her wishes and in a firm clear voice she did so. After the 
weight of the situation bore down upon her, she broke 
into tears. 

Her statement was convincing and a grisled old church 
member who had always opposed children coming into 
the church got up and made this statement: "I have al- 
ways opposed children's coming into the church because 
I thought they didn't know what they were doing. I think 
I have been wrong because I believe what Bessie told us 
today and I want to make a motion that we accept her 
into the church". The motion carried unanimously. 

John related how twenty years later he visited the same 
church. He asked the new pastor about Bessie Pickler. 

54 Canaan in Carolina 

"Oh! Do you know that girl? She is worth at least eight 
or ten of any other of my church members." 

Brother John recalls a member who once traded him a 
blind cow. In Albemarle in the old days he had to be a 
farmer as well as a preacher and had to have garden 
patches, a cow and chickens to be able to support his fam- 
ily. His own cow went dry one summer so he asked this 
particular deacon if he could find a cow that would give 
milk. The member said he was glad he asked him about 
it. He just happened to have the very cow for a preacher's 
family. She was black, fairly small, muley headed, and 
would be easy to keep. She was so gentle that even the 
children could handle her. 

That sounded very desirable to Brother John so he 
walked five miles out in the country leading his own cow 
to bring back the little black one. After the exchange 
was made he led the cow the five miles back to Albemarle 
and noticed along the way that the cow seemed to stumble 
a little but was willing to follow him. When he got her 
to the yard she just stood there. She made no effort to eat 
the green grass. She made no effort to go to the watering 
trough. When he led her to the stable she ran into the 
door, then into the wall. 

On looking closer, he found she was completely blind. 
There were no pupils in her eyes. 

He was so mad he didn't know what to do. He drove 
out to the member's house that night and asked him, "Did 
you know you sold me a blind cow?" 

The member replied, "We traded cows Parson, and I 
don't go back on a trade." 

"This is one trade you are going back on or else you 
or I one will be leaving Stanly County." He made the 
case so hot that the owner agreed not only to trade back 
but paid a boy $5 to lead the cows for the exchange. 

On one occasion Brother John remembers he paid $1.50 
for a load of wood that would not burn. The man who 
sold him the load had agreed to take $1.50 in cash and to 

Mr. Pickler Breaks a Toe in Stanly County 55 

be given credit for another $1.50 on the preacher's salary. 
The wood was wet willow, grown in a swamp and stacked 
on wet ground and was so soggy, it absolutely would not 
burn. The town banker heard about the deal and he made 
things so hot for this man he went out to the forest and 
got a good load of burnable wood. 

In those days it was sometimes necessary for several 
people to sleep in the same room. A family invited the 
minister home with them to spend the night. The local 
pastor had to go back to his home this particular night so 
John had to go without him. He crawled into the buggy 
and started out over the dark hills. Finally the horse 
stopped at what he thought was the barn. It was so dark 
he could not see very well. The host got out, opened a 
gate, a very long creaky gate. 

They opened the door to a one-room house where the 
wife, five small children, and two older ones of a neighbor 
were sleeping. There was a nice clean bed over in one 
corner. John proceeded to get in because he was very 
tired. It was one of those hot, sultry nights in July. There 
were no screens. He was just about to sail off into slum- 
berland when "ping", a big mosquito bit out a chunk of 
preacher meat. From then on the battle raged. He said 
each one that came would go back, tell his mother, father, 
and all of the children, cousins included. "Well, I fought 
until just about daylight. From sheer exhaustion I fell 
asleep. When I awoke the sun was shining. The hostess 
was up, had taken up all of the pallets, made up her bed 
and was kneading dough. The minute I opened my eyes, 
she greeted, "Good morning, hope you slept well." 

"Yes, thank you," he answered as he reached down to 
pull up a sheet and wait for her to go out so he could get 
up and dress. But she was too busy fixing breakfast to 
let a little thing like that disturb her. So he finally slid 
out. "I feel sure, though, that she at least turned her 
head," he said. 

A man in Albemarle, M. M. Greene, named his son 
Suttle Greene. Brother Suttle told him if he reared the 

56 Canaan in Carolina 

child to manhood he would give him a silver dollar. 
Eighteen years later while Brother John was preaching at 
Albemarle, the young man and his father came up and 
demanded, "Give me a silver dollar. My name is Suttle 

He got the dollar. 


New Communion Cups In 
Johnston County 

"The Kingdom is Coming" 

— A mighty rock in a weary land 
Isaiah 32:2 

Twilight was settling rapidly over the valley of the 
Neuse River as the Atlantic Coast Line train pulled into 
Selma late one November afternoon in 1897. Dusk was 
gathering rapidly, and the surrounding country was al- 
ready assuming the drabness of early winter. 

The little preacher, his young wife, and two-year-old 
baby were very tired. The train ride from Salisbury had 
taken all day. It was nerve-wracking and exhausting with 
the road being rough and the conveniences poor. 

The journey was not yet over. It was still four miles 
to Smithfield and they had to cover the remaining distance 
with an old hack driver named Charlie Hodge, a crusty 
old character who claimed he had covered the distance 
around the world several times in making an endless num- 
ber of four mile trips between the villages of Selma and 

Smithfield was John Suttle's destination. It was the 


58 Canaan in Carolina 

county seat of Johnston County and the location of the 
new church he was to serve for the next seven years. 

Johnston County was a mission field. There were only 
four or five Missionary Baptist churches in the entire 
county, none of them able to suport a full time minister 
and several of them receiving support from the State Mis- 
sion Board. There were plenty of Primitive Baptists, a 
few Methodists and a few scattered Presbyterians; but on 
the whole, in 1897, Johnston County consisted of wilder- 
ness, ignorance, provincialism, bootleggers, roughnecks, 
mosquitoes, and malaria. 

Scattered throughout this hodgepodge of seething back- 
wardness were little groups of very good people, several 
of whom were trying to establish Missionary Baptist 
churches. All were located in isolated communities set in 
a massive expanse of virgin pine timber. Large business 
interests were rapidly cutting this timber either for lum- 
ber or crossties, or were harvesting thousands of barrels 
of turpentine. 

Wages were low and the people were poor by com- 
parison with many other counties farther east or farther 

Johnston County had been a highway, rich in natural 
resources, but late to be developed, compared to the sec- 
tions around New Bern, Wilmington, Raleigh, Durham, 
and Hillsboro. Many settlers had passed through Johnston 
but comparatively few had remained. 

Clayton, in the extreme northern part of the county, 
was older and more civilized, being fairly close to the 
capital at Raleigh. Baptists had established a church there 
as early as 1811. Smithfield was organized in 1832, Mt. 
Moriah in 1834, and Bethesda in 1842. Most of the other 
churches had been established about the time the Civil War 
broke out or fifteen to twenty years after it closed. This 
area bore the brunt of Sherman's march from the sea back 
to the north. There was great destruction and disorgani- 
zation in this part of the state. 

In 1897, the State Mission Board had contacted John 

New Communion Cups in Johnston County 59 

Suttle in Albemarle and asked him to take his youthful 
energy and organizing ability into Johnston to see if some 
progress could be accomplished. Mrs. Suttle remembers 
more of the details of the first few days. 

"I will never forget that first carriage ride from Selma 
to Smithfield. Old Charlie let everybody know he was 
coming. He had a very musical bugle which he would 
sound about a mile out of town so that the hotel or who- 
ever was expecting guests had ample time to be ready for 

"Our first night was spent with the senior deacon of 
the church, Mr. J. M. Beaty. His family consisted of his 
wife and mother who did everything possible to make us 
comfortable. The next day we went over to the parsonage, 
a very neat five-room cottage entirely large enough for 
us since we had only two children. 

"This parsonage was built near the church. Two of the 
rooms were actually on the church lot. These two rooms 
had been built to take care of two maiden sisters who were 
wards of the church. Later, three more rooms, a front 
and back porch and a hall were added. 

"The church had been built before the Civil War. It 
was just a plain oblong building with a lot of windows 
on each side. There was a gallery upstairs for the slaves. 
One former slave, Aunt Nancy Brown, was still a member 
of this church when we got there. 

"In order to reach the bell and ring it the sexton had 
to go up a flight of steps from a wide tower, pass through 
the parsonage yard and reach up high to get the rope. 
Consequently there were two front gates to the fence 
around the parsonage; one for the parsonage and one for 
getting into the church. 

"Across the street from the side of the church was the 
cemetery. I used to hear weird voices down there and 
was told that it was an old fellow who came to town to 
get drunk. Then when he wanted to sober up, he went 
to the cemetery to do so. Courting couples used to walk 
in the cemetery on Sunday. 

60 Canaan in Carolina 

"The day after we arrived I remember one old gentle- 
man hitched his horse on the court square to allow him 
to feed on the grass. He was arrested and fined, then went 
right back out to the lawn and tied his horse in the same 
spot. When questioned about why he did this he replied, 
'I have paid for my horse's dinner and he is going to get 
it . 

Smithfield was headquarters for John while he lived in 
Johnston County but simultaneously he held pastorates at 
Sardis, Princeton, Pisgah, Four Oaks, Bethesda, Blackmon's 
Grove, Carter's Chapel, Benson, Hood's Grove and Wil- 
son's Mill. Some of these smaller churches he was able to 
reach only once a month. Sometimes he would hold the 
business meeting on Saturday and worship on Sunday. 

Since the mighty Neuse River cut the county into two 
parts, there was plenty of water. Sometimes there was 
too much water to cross the river bridges. Most of the 
baptizing took place in Holt's Lake, a large lake southwest 
of Smithfield on Holt's Creek, a tributary of the Neuse. 

The seven years in Johnston County were probably the 
busiest, hardest, most enervating years of the 65 John 
spent in the ministry. Except for his youth and vitality 
he never would have been able to do the traveling and 
preaching called for on that circuit. Many of the rugged 
experiences of that period he has told over and over again 
to all of his other churches in the west. 

His name and fame were so lasting that even forty years 
after he had been away, a new men's class in the Sunday 
School at Smithfield in 1947 voted to name themselves 
"Suttle Bible Class". A prominent attorney, Honorable 
R. E. Batton, is the teacher. 

All of the problems at Smithfield did not consist of 
wilderness and weather. Some of them included people 
and their ignorance. For instance, most of the churches 
still used the old-fashion goblets from which they drank 
wine for the Communion. 

These Lord's Supper Cups were usually cracked or 

New Communion Cups in Johnston County 61 

chipped or had become insanitary from long use. Some 
were metal and others were made of china. They were 
filled with wine, usually one for the males and one for 
the females. 

At Smithfield the cups were in bad condition. A leading 
member of the church had proposed that new ones be 
obtained and said he would pay for them. A leading dea- 
con named Underhill got up and said in church, "If any- 
thing besides the old-fashioned cups comes in at the front 
door of this church, I'll go out the back door." 

The congregation did not make any decision on the mat- 
ter at this time but postponed it to a later date. As it 
happened, Brother Suttle had been invited to the Under- 
hill home for supper. He slipped into the kitchen before 
Mr. Underhill came home and arranged with Mrs. Under- 
hill to place him and the host side by side for the evening 
meal. He also arranged for her to pour only one glass of 

Everybody had their regular knives, forks, spoons, and 
plates on which was placed the usual portions of food, but 
only one glass of milk. This glass of milk was set half way 
between him and Mr. Underhill. 

Underhill came to the table and sat down in a hurry. 
"Well, Pastor, this is indeed a surprise. We are so glad 
to have you for supper. Will you ask the blessing?" 

Grace was said and the family proceeded with their 
supper. Underhill looked around then looked up at his 
wife and said, "Betsy, where is my milk? I'm thirsty." 
Whereupon Mr. Suttle took a little drink from the glass 
between them and said, "Here's your milk." Underhill 
said, "No, no, that is your milk. I want my milk." But 
Mr. Suttle again said, "No, this is your milk. I'm drinking 
out of it and if you don't drink out of it too I won't eat 
supper with you. In fact, I'm about ready to go out that 
door right now." 

The old farmer, who had a good sense of humor, leaned 
back and laughed and said, "Well, Brother Suttle, you've 
got me. You can have your communion cups whenever 

62 Canaan in Carolina 

you want them because I'm not going to drink milk or 
wine after nobody." 

Before the Suttles arrived in Smithfield, the Baptists 
were not in the majority as in some other parts of the 
state. In fact, they were almost in the minority, especially 
the Missionary Baptists. One of the stories the Suttles first 
heard on their arrival was the tale about Aunt Susan 

Aunt Susan was a housekeeper for a well known family 
named the Carver Masseys. She and the colored member, 
Aunt Nancy Brown, kept the church clean and would 
have services whenever possible. However, so many of 
the members moved away that services were not held regu- 
larly, especially in the wintertime. It so happened that 
a preacher by the name of Dr. Harper, a member of the 
denomination, Disciples of Christ, came to Smithfield and 
asked permission to conduct services in the church. Aunt 
Susan readily consented. 

A few Sundays later a neighbor stopped by for Aunt 
Susan to go to church with her. She was preparing dinner 
and said she could not go, but when she was told that 
Dr. Harper had announced the night before he was going 
to organize a branch of the Disciples Church in their build- 
ing, Aunt Susan changed her mind and her apron. She 
went not only to church, but right up into the pulpit and 
told the preacher he could not organize such a church 

"This is a Baptist Church, it was built by the Baptist 
people many, many years ago and we'll find some Baptists 
to go in it," she told the minister. 

Mrs. Suttle was quickly impressed with the fortitude 
and courage with which some of the women had to face 
their problems. Men drank a great deal and often in states 
of drunkenness fought fierce personal battles, sometimes 
killing each other. One of her neighbors, a Mrs. Hall, had 
to face such a crisis. 

Mrs. Hall was a widow and had a daughter and two 
small grandchildren who lived with her. One day she 

New Communion Cups in Johnston County 63 

drove to the other end of the big bridge across the Neuse 
River to get some vegetables, driving her little pony, 
Trixie, and pulling a small cart. The daughter and grand- 
children were in the cart and Mrs. Hall was quite feeble, 
having had an illness for some time. 

The bridge was barely wide enough for two vehicles to 
pass. After she had gotten on the bridge coming back, 
she looked up and noticed a wagon coming rather rapidly 
from the other end. Apparently the mules were running 
at break-neck speed and the two occupants were standing 
up in the wagon bed fighting and swearing at each other. 
Mrs. Hall feared greatly for the safety of her family and 
did not know exactly what to do. 

Making a rather quick decision, she jumped out of the 
little cart and raced towards the charging mules, unfasten- 
ing a big black skirt at the same time. She threw the black 
skirt over the heads of the mules, and they halted tempor- 
arily, long enough for her to grab the bridle of one of 

As the mules halted, the frightened woman jumped 
quickly into the wagon, grabbed the reins and guided the 
animals carefully past her little Trixie with the grandchil- 
dren crouching in the wagon. 

The drunken men scarcely seemed to notice what she 
had done. One of them did not even offer to strike her 
with the big black horse whip which he held in his hands. 

A few months after Brother Suttle got to Johnston 
County there was considerable interest among the other 
denominations as to whether the Baptists soon would take 
the lead. The Presbyterians began giving out tracts about 
their denomination. Primitive Baptists and Methodists also 
began to pass around tracts about their better points. 

Two girls of about high school age came to Brother 
Suttle's office one day and asked him for tracts on the 
Baptist Church. He went back into the office and got 
two New Testaments, handing one to each of the girls. 

"No, Brother Suttle. You must have misunderstood us. 

64 Canaan in Carolina 

We don't want Bibles, we want tracts on the denomina- 
tion." Brother John said, "This explains our denomination 
better than any tract. I hope you will read it and if it 
leads you to the Presbyterian Church, that you'll join that 
church. If it leads you to the Methodist Church, that 
you will join the Methodist. If after reading this New 
Testament, you find it leads you to the Baptist Church, 
I'll be looking for you." 

Mr. Suttle reported that later in the year he was con- 
ducting a revival meeting with the assistance of Dr. L. R. 
Pruitt of Charlotte and was not too surprised to see the 
two girls come in and sit on the front seat for the evening 
service. Incidentally, they sat down by the Presbyterian 
minister who had given them tracts on his denomination. 
After the service was over, they joined the Baptist Church. 

Being on time for his regular appointed services is one 
of the uncompromising virtues of John. When he first 
went to Smithfield and took a little church out in the 
county, he found that the customary time to start serv- 
ices was posted at 11:00 o'clock, but no one, not even the 
visiting ministers, ever started on time. They stood around 
the church, told stories or talked about politics and had 
other discussions until about 12:00 o'clock. Then, when 
all of the stragglers got there, they went into the church 
and held an hour's service before they went home. 

When the new pastor arrived he started the service at 
11:00 o'clock and closed on time with only one or two 
people being present. Then when 12:00 o'clock came and 
he was on his way home, he met several of the brethren 
coming in. They said, "Where are you going, Brother 
Suttle?" He said, "I'm going home. It's dinner time." 
But they said, "What about the preaching service?" 

He said, "We've already had that. We start the service 
exactly on time here. We begin at 11:00 o'clock. I hope 
to see you all next Sunday." 

From then on members of that church learned that 
Brother Suttle did start his meetings on time and always 
had the good grace to close them on time. 

New Communion Cups in Johnston County 65 

In one of the smaller churches not too far from Smith- 
field he held a revival meeting for a week and was about 
to go home. One of the deacons suggested that it was not 
exactly fair that the young preacher come over and spend 
an entire week with them preaching and teaching with- 
out pay. 

One of the leading farmers said, "I don't believe we 
ought to let this man go without helping him and I'm 
going to ask that everybody give generously." He passed 
a hat. Out of the entire congregation there was one quar- 
ter, which this leading farmer gave, and the rest was pen- 
nies, nickels, dimes, making a total of 98 cents, which 
Brother Suttle pocketed for his entire week's work. 

Among merchants of that early time was a general atti- 
tude of "let the buyer beware". A member of his church 
contracted to sell him a barrel of sweet potatoes. On top 
of the barrel were two layers of fairly good potatoes but 
from there on down to the very bottom the potatoes were 
merely scraps and strings. 

Mr. Suttle paid him the price for the good potatoes and 
the next time he saw him told the merchant that he would 
either give him his money back or deliver a barrel of good 
potatoes, or in the long run he would pay a lot more than 
the cost of a barrel of potatoes. Early the next morning 
a barrel of good potatoes was on his back porch. 

On another occasion the only daughter of a wealthy 
merchant in Smithfield disappeared. Her disappearance 
caused so much confusion that the school was closed, the 
mill shut down, the mail did not run, and there was no 
cooking for a couple of days. 

The entire community was organized to find her. The 
pastor was asked to remain at his church to receive any 
news and to ring the bell long and loud whenever she was 
found. After two or three days the little girl came out 
of the attic where she had been hiding in a trunk and had 
stored enough provisions for her stay. 

"I never had so much fun in my life," the teenage girl 

66 Canaan in Carolina 

As a rule John has been considered a meek, mild, easy- 
going sort of a person. But, where a principle is involved 
he is known to be full of fire and temper and on many 
occasions exercises righteous indignation. 

Take the case of the man in Johnston County who 
thought he would have a little fun at the preacher's ex- 
pense. While little John's back was turned one day at 
church this big bully of a man said in a loud voice, "How 
is it that our little new preacher drives a horse fatter than 
mine, wears clothes finer than mine, and seems to look so 

Brother John wheeled around and said, "I drive a horse 
fatter than yours because I'm not too stingy to feed him 
like you are. I wear clothes finer than you do because I 
have a little more self-respect than you. I am a little more 
prosperous than you because I give a tenth of all I make 
to the Lord, and since I have been here you only gave Him 
this one single dollar bill and I'm giving it back to you 
right now." 

When he stuck it out to the man the bully was so sur- 
prised he took it, murmuring apologies all the while. He 
missed a few Sundays at church but then came back driv- 
ing a nice horse, wearing his best clothes and from then 
on contributed generously. 

A letter the Suttles have in their possession came from 
Festus L. Woodall from Route No. 2, Clayton. As a young 
man he had been baptized in the old Ivey pond along with 
a good many other young people from the community. 
He later got an education and became a writer and solicitor 
for the Smitbfield Herald, and wrote a weekly column 
for that newspaper. One of the columns was devoted to 
Pastor Suttle's work in that section. 

"To know John W. Suttle is to love him. To have him 
in one's home was indeed a pleasant occasion," the column- 
ist stated. 

Granny Creech lived at Four Oaks where four large, 

New Communion Cups in Johnston County 67 

beautiful oak trees had grown up together and made a 
splendid shade for the little church building. 

Four Oaks was just a village sixty years ago with only 
two to three hundred persons making the total population. 
The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad had one train which 
stopped there daily. Most of the people were farmers, 
chiefly raising tobacco. 

Why they called Mrs. Laura Creech "Granny" no one 
knew. She was far too young and too pretty to be given 
the title "Granny". Perhaps it was because she had reared 
a large family of boys and girls and because she was so 
mature in her attitude toward her church. 

When John took the church at Four Oaks in 1900, it 
had only one member and that was Granny Creech. The 
others had married, died, quit, or moved away. Mrs. 
Creech always said his coming was a direct answer to 
prayer, for she had tried very hard not to be the only 
member left. 

"I've tried to keep the building in order, Pastor, and I 
spend some time every week sweeping and dusting it. I 
come out here every day and get down on my knees and 
ask God to send us a preacher." 

For several services the new pastor and Granny Creech 
were the only members present and when they would sing 
a song he would call the number and she would play the 
organ and sing. When the Lord's Supper was served John 
would have to hand her the bread and wine and then she 
would pass it back to him. Eventually others joined the 
church and the congregation grew, but they could not 
interest one son who was fond of fishing. John told him 
he liked to fish, too, so son Jim Creech invited the pastor 
to go with him several times. 

Once a big fish got away. He told John afterwards that 
he would have been surprised to have heard what would 
have been said if the preacher had not been there. Finally 
on one particular trip he turned to John and said, "Brother 
John, are you fishing for fish or are you fishing for me?" 

John said, "You." 

68 Canaan in Carolina 

"Well," the man said, "you have caught me." 

They headed into a cove and had a long talk then went 
home to tell his mother. She was one of the happiest 
women in the community and it is said that she could be 
heard shouting all over the neighborhood. 

After a number of years she passed on to her reward, 
and her good deeds, her unselfishness and thoughtfulness 
were talked about for many days in the church. One of 
her neighbors, a Methodist woman, was asked to say a few 
words at the funeral and gave a wonderful account of 
her usefulness. 

Brother John says, "Many times I have used the illustra- 
tion of Mrs. Laura Creech to try to stress the importance 
of church attendance even though the crowd is small, be- 
cause despite the lack of church organization, she came 
to church every Sunday, to prayer meeting, to Sunday 
School, and to Worship Service. In addition, she was the 
sexton, the clerk, the organist, and all the officers of the 
church. The church survived because of her faith. Her 
son put a memorial window in the Four Oaks Church 
where a new building now stands, but the real memorial 
of Granny Creech is in the hearts of the people in that 

Over at Pisgah the church needed a new sanctuary. 
Most of the members were tenant farmers, very poor, and 
could give only of their labor. This they were willing to 
do but they had no money or timber. 

One of the members of the church, however, was quite 
wealthy, owned a great deal of land and a stand of the 
finest timber in the entire country. Members of the church 
asked him if he would donate enough timber to frame the 
building, with the members doing the work themselves. 
He refused. 

They went to him a second time and he refused again. 
The very next day a cyclone dipped down into that sec- 
tion of Johnston County and ripped through that fine 
stand of timber. 

New Communion Cups in Johnston County 69 

"That wind in five minutes destroyed enough good tim- 
ber in that one forest to build ten churches," said Brother 
John. He dutifully pointed this fact out to the owner 
who in great repentance let the members not only salvage 
the fallen trees but get whatever was necessary from those 
still standing. 

John has told his churches over and over again, "We 
had better give the Lord a tenth of our income and other 
gifts that are due Him. If not, He'll get it one way or 

In one of the smaller churches in that area, Brother 
John had a deacon named Jones. Deacon Jones always 
wanted to pray in revival meetings. He prayed so earn- 
estly and so convincingly for the lost that usually if that 
person was present he would come to the mourner's bench. 

One night he began to pray for his own son. His son 
was sitting next to him, and he was also next to a window. 
As the prayer waxed and waned and became more elo- 
quent, his son raised the window next to him and jumped 
out of the church. 

One deacon at Bethesda always sang when the collec- 
tion plate was being passed. Invariably he would sing 
whether the others sang or not. Almost as invariably 
when the collection plate passed him he would close his 
eyes. The usher would usually pass him by and let it go 
at that. However, one day Brother John decided to inter- 
vene and told the usher to stop and stand there until the 
deacon opened his eyes. This singing deacon haltingly 
opened his eyes, saw the plate, and closed them again. Lo 
and behold, when he opened them again the plate was still 

Brother John openly told him that the collection plate 
was something to put money in and that the usher had 
been instructed to stand there until he put some money 
in it. Mr. Deacon put in some money and from that time 
on put money in the plate every time it was passed. 

One of the truly rewarding experiences of Brother John 

70 Canaan in Carolina 

in Johnston County was the organization of a new church. 
It was organized on Thanksgiving Day and on his sug- 
gestion, the members called it Thanksgiving Church. That 
is what it is known as to this day. A few years ago it 
was moved from its original location on a dirt road to a 
hard surfaced road between Clayton and Wilson where it 
sits on a beautiful hilltop. The grounds consist of several 
acres of beautifully landscaped terrain which was donated 
by Dr. R. E. Earp, one of the early members. 

This church has been quite successful in developing the 
Lord's Acre plan and the "harvest day festival" by which 
a part of the financial obligations of the church are met. 

Another accomplishment was the efforts he made in the 
establishment of a new Association. In the year 1903, a 
number of the churches in Johnston County which had 
been members of the Raleigh Association decided they 
needed a new one closer home, so the Johnston Association 
was organized. The first meeting was held at Selma with 
the Reverend R. H. Gower, moderator and T. J. Lassiter, 
clerk. Dr. Livingston Johnson preached the first sermon, 
and Brother Suttle preached the sermon the second year 
in 1904. 

Memberships and financial contributions were pitifully 
small at the beginning of the 20th century. For instance 
in 1898, John's five churches at Smithfield, Sardis, Prince- 
ton, Pisgah, and Four Oaks, contributed a total of less 
than $400 for the entire year. However, this was from 
a membership of only around 400 in all. One hopeful 
thing was that at Princeton the first year, John was able 
to baptize 54 persons. 

Both memberships and contributions grew with the suc- 
ceeding years. By the last two years of his stay his mem- 
bership was several hundred persons larger and was con- 
tributing over $2,000. 

In 1954 upon his retirement, Brother John looked with 
pride in the minutes of the Johnston Baptist Association 
and hurriedly checked the list to find the churches he once 
served now have a total membership of more than 4,000 

New Communion Cups in Johnston County 71 

persons, and that the total contributions for all causes were 
in excess of $150,000. 

"Truly when God said, 'Cast your bread upon the water 
and after many days it will return unto you,' He knew 
exactly what He was talking about," John said. 

"He must have meant Johnston County." 


John Barleycorn Gels Whipped 
In Marshall 

"Jesus, Lover of My Soul" 

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. 
Psalm 121:1 

The fighting parson of Johnston County was tired. 

What the bootleggers, saloon keepers, wholesale liquor 
dealers, the drunkards and gutter rats of Johnston County 
had not been able to do, the Anopheles mosquito had suc- 
ceeded in doing. 

Mrs. Mosquito gave John malaria. 

Day after day and week after week during the summer 
of 1907 the chills, fever, and sweats of tertian malaria 
wracked and almost wrecked John's already frail body. 
Never a man of robust physique, he weighed only 100 
pounds when he contracted malaria, and during the course 
of the summer his weight dropped to around 8 5 pounds. 

He took quinine by the handfuls and managed to keep 
going for his appointments and special meetings. The fever 
continued to plague him to such an extent that he lost 
strength, lost sleep, lost everything except the desire to lie 
down and rest a long, long time. 


John Barleycorn Gets Whipped in Marshall 73 

The offer came to go to Marshall in the hills of Madison 
in the French Broad Association. He knew there was much 
work to do in Johnston County, that he had only begun 
to fight to stamp out the liquor traffic and to establish 
respect for law and human lives in that frontier, but he 
was so tired he could hardly raise his voice above a whis- 
per. He took the Marshall call, having in mind to free his 
body of malaria and get a long desired rest. 

He and his family established themselves in a fine old 
colonial type house overlooking a magnificent view of the 
French Broad valley. During the fall and winter of 1907, 
he was able to rest and recuperate a great deal of the 
strength he had lost. He had a little time for hunting and 
fishing, and the climate beyond the Blue Ridge was stimu- 
lating to his appetite and ambition. 

While pastor at Marshall, John was supplying for a 
smaller church, Madison Seminary, several miles away 
from the county seat where he lived. 

If he thought his battle against alcohol and for state- 
wide prohibition was over when he left Johnston County, 
he was mistaken. He had fought and whipped the advo- 
cates of alcohol in Johnston, and by the spring of 1908 
a state-wide campaign for the abolition of alcoholic bev- 
erages was under way. There was strong sentiment in 
Madison County for both sides, but prohibitionists were 
in the lead. Taking their cue from John Suttle's success 
in the east, they decided to put on a really big campaign 
for prohibition. John was asked to make plans for a coun- 
ty-wide rally one Sunday in May. He asked a prominent 
young lawyer of Shelby, Oliver Max Gardner, to drive up 
to Marshall to speak. 

Gardner was just beginning a very brilliant career in 
the law profession and in state politics; a career which 
was to dominate the state for the next forty years. Mrs. 
Suttle recalls the occasion. "I never saw Cousin Max 
dressed up so well. The previous November he had mar- 
ried Miss Faye Webb and had purchased a Prince Albert 

74 Canaan in Carolina 

suit with long tails and striped trousers. His head was 
adorned by a high black silk topper. 

"He felt that if he was to speak in a pulpit, even though 
it was Cousin John's pulpit, he should wear a long coat. 
As hot as the weather was, he donned his heavy Prince 
Albert suit to make a fiery, rational, very impressive and 
convincing temperance speech. With so many clothes on 
and such a big crowd of people in the church, Max said 
he almost smothered. 

"However, his speech was so good and the people were 
enthused to such interest in the campaign that only one 
vote was cast against prohibition in Madison County that 
year," said Mrs. Suttle. 

The haven in the hills was good for John. His health 
was restored. His soul reclaimed his body. By midwinter 
of the second year in Madison he was ready to fight sin, 
John Barleycorn, or the Devil himself. 

He would fight on level ground. A call came from 
Cleveland County and the odyssey was over. Brother John 
came home to stay. 


How Dessert Was Found 
In South Shelby 

"Break Thou the Bread of Life." 

. . . And ye shall be witnesses unto me both in 
Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and 
unto the uttermost part of the earth. 

Acts 1:8 

In 1909, the little county seat town of Shelby was burst- 
ing at the seams. Country people were moving to town, 
the cotton mills were expanding their operations, and tex- 
tile villages were springing up in the cotton fields on the 
outer edges of the community. 

Leaders of the Shelby First Baptist Church began to look 
around. They saw the need for another church. One was 
needed especially at South Shelby. They laid their plans 
and decided to call it the Shelby Second Baptist Church. 

John Suttle was contacted at Marshall where he had just 
about recuperated from the onslaught of malaria, and it 
was agreed that he would come back home and join in an 
effort to organize the church at South Shelby. On Janu- 
ary 1, 1909, he began his work. 

The efforts to found a Second Baptist Church was no 
small problem. Not too many people were anxious to be 
a member of a "second" Baptist church. However, there 


76 Canaan in Carolina 

was a genuine need for service to the people in that com- 
munity. For six years Brother John labored and shared 
the sacrifices and joys of a struggling group of people who 
were willing to found a church away from the security 
of the stronger, more powerful First Church. 

In 1949, when the church celebrated its 40th Anniver- 
sary, he and other pastors who were still living were in- 
vited for a gala celebration. One of the other ministers 
was the Reverend L. L. Jessup, now a prominent minister 
in Virginia, and under whose leadership the Second Bap- 
tist Church made its greatest strides in membership and 

Dr. Zeno Wall, pastor of the First Baptist Church for 
23 years, often came to South Shelby to assist John in the 
meeting. On some of these occasions they would go into 
the homes of many of the members and partake of dinner. 
John said he and Dr. Wall had a little plan worked out 
by which they could notify each other if they saw signs 
of dessert coming on. 

If it looked as though there would be a dessert, they 
would not eat as much of the regular meal. If there was 
to be no dessert, they would ask for a second helping. The 
prearranged signal was a kick on the leg under the table. 

At this particular house one day, Dr. Zeno thought he 
saw two signs of dessert. He could just barely see around 
the corner into the kitchen. One sign was a big pan setting 
on the table with a spoon handle sticking out. He thought 
this was blackberry pie. The other was a barrel under- 
neath the table which he took to be an ice cream freezer 
with a dipper handle sticking out of the churn. He gave 
Brother Suttle a resounding kick on the shin. 

However, in a few minutes the host announced that the 
meal was over and that they had just as well go out into 
the yard and smoke or have a chew of tobacco. 

The two ministers discovered to their amazement that 
the pan on the table was not blackberry pie but a pan of 
dish water, and that the supposed ice cream churn on the 

How Dessert Was Found in South Shelby 77 

floor was not ice cream but a keg of molasses. A wiser 
and sadder pair abandoned their signs and designs on des- 
serts. From then on they ate regular meals like everybody 

The same year Suttle organized the church at South 
Shelby he was called to New Hope in the little village of 
Earl on the Southern Railroad about six miles south of 
Shelby. He kept this pastorate until 1916. 

One of the things about the Earl Community which Mr. 
Suttle remembers was the Bettis store which, in that day 
and time, was a really old-fashioned country type of store. 
They had everything from the proverbial cracker barrel 
to Sunday suits. They sold coal oil for the farmers and 
stick candy for the children; high button shoes for the 
women and "brogans" for the men. 

Sam H. Austell, one of the charter members of this 
church, is still living and still drives his Model "A" car 
even though he is above the age of 93 years. "Uncle" Billy 
Earl, for whom the Town of Earl was named, was clerk 
of the church at that time. He was very proud of the fact 
that he had the longest and handsomest beard in Cleveland 
County and wore it that way until his death a year or 
so ago. 

When Brother Suttle was pastor at New Hope one of 
his deacons, L. M. Hopper, fell off the church while mak- 
ing some repairs and broke his leg. Eventually it had to 
be amputated. 

On the same circuit as South Shelby and New Hope is 
old Zoar, located on what is now Highway 18 south of 
Shelby about three miles. Zoar is the church where the 
Kings Mountain Association first decided to establish a 
school for young ministers at the little town of Boiling 
Springs six miles west. Zoar was constituted in 1837 and 
is one of the oldest churches in the county, along with 
Zion, Sandy Run and old Capernaum. 

The oldest church Brother John has pastored is Sandy 
Run. This ancient church, mother of all churches in the 

78 Canaan in Carolina 

Sandy Run Association and most of the churches in the 
Kings Mountain Association, was organized in the year 
1772, four years before the signing of the Declaration of 

He became pastor of this church in 1912 and drove the 
ten miles from Shelby to Mooresboro once a month for 
preaching and the Saturday before for the regular meet- 
ing. At Sandy Run, John Suttle followed nearly all the 
dream preachers of his boyhood, because it was here that 
old Drury Dobbins had served for 44 years from 1803 to 
1847. Also, his grandfather, Joseph Suttle, had been pas- 
tor in 18 54 before the Civil War, as well as J. S. Ezell, 
G. W. Rollins, Thomas Dixon, J. H. Yarborough, A. C. 
Irvin, and Z. D. Harrill. 

Records of the church for the first ten years have been 
lost, but there are permanent records dating back to 1782. 
There are several names of slaves recorded as being mem- 
bers of the church, and offerings at that time were made 
in the coin of the realm, pence and shillings. 

Sandy Run was first a member of the Bethel Associa- 
tion and later in 1800 joined the Broad River Association. 
Tradition says that Broad River Association, one of the 
oldest in upper South Carolina, was organized at Sandy 
Run Church. 

Buildings are known to have been erected originally in 
1772 then again in 1804, 183 5, 1871, 1908, and lastly in 
1949. One of the finest, most modern church and Sunday 
School plants in rural Piedmont Carolina now houses Sandy 
Run Church. John Suttle had no little part in stimulating 
the people of Sandy Run to erect this kind of meeting 
house. His eight years of preaching, teaching, and talking 
about the new Sunday School methods paid off when the 
new building was erected. 

When Brother John was at Sandy Run he had been 
preaching long enough to know what he wanted to do 
and how to do it. 

Three men, a Mr. Martin, a Mr. Lovelace, and a Mr. 
Bridges, always went to sleep. They were faithful to at- 

How Dessert Was Found in South Shelby 79 

tend. They sat in the "Amen" corner, and they made 
their regular contributions, but while the pastor was 
preaching they always went to sleep. 

One morning when Brother Suttle noticed that they had 
slipped into peaceful slumber, he quit preaching. He 
stopped thirty seconds, a minute, and just kept waiting 
and waiting to see if they would wake up. Everybody in 
the congregation began to be restless and to look at the 
three men wondering what was going to happen when 


The three men woke up and looked around very much 
startled. Brother Suttle pointed his finger at them. "You 
three men have been asleep every Sunday since I have been 
preaching at this church. If you ever go to sleep again 
while I'm in the pulpit, I'm going to all of you." 

All three of the men professed to be so mad they wanted 
to do something about it, but they did not, and as long 
as Brother Suttle stayed at Sandy Run, not only those three 
men, but no one else ever, ever went to sleep again. 

One other interesting occurrence at Sandy Run was at 
a baptizing. Brother Suttle was going to baptize a very 
timid little girl. He came fairly early to inspect the pool 
and while inspecting, along with some of the deacons, he 
found that thirty-eight water moccasins had been killed 
a few moments before by some of the deacons; that is, one 
Mama water moccasin and 37 little ones. They were all 
piled up in a neat pile and some of them were still wiggling 
and writhing. 

Hurriedly the snake pile was removed from the scene 
and soon after that the timid little girl presented herself 
to the preacher for baptism. As soon as Brother Suttle 
stood in the pool before the candidate, a little twig down 
in the water began to play around the calf of his leg so he 
blurted out hurriedly, "I baptize thee in the name of the 
SPLASH!" and under went the candidate and 

80 Canaan in Carolina 

out came the preacher and the little girl. The power of 
suggestion was too strong, even for a preacher! 

Brother John went to Waco in 1916 and for the first 
time hit his true stride as a country pastor. Waco made 
the sixth church in his circuit. He already was obligated 
at New Bethel, Lawndale, Double Shoals, Zoar and New 

From that time forward for twenty-eight years, he 
would be pastor of either six or seven churches and for 
32 years pastor of five churches, all at the same time! 

Waco was at the extreme eastern edge of Cleveland 
County, being near the edge of the Gaston County line 
about ten miles from Shelby. He drove for the first few 
years in his usual horse drawn buggy, but by 1918, his 
automobile afforded him much easier transportation. 

Waco is an old community. The original church was 
established under the name Capernaum about a mile and 
a half from the present village of Waco. When the church 
was organized there the worshippers met under a brush 
arbor and their cemetery is still there. Once a year a me- 
morial service is held at the cemetery. 

At Waco, John Suttle's pattern was the same. It was 
preaching, enlistment, stewardship, come to church, train 
the deacons, train the teachers, build a new building, do 
something more for the Lord. 

The people at Waco responded. They enrolled, they 
enlisted, they grew, they studied, they built a new build- 
ing just as others had done in many of Suttle's other 
churches and just as they will do in any church in the 
Southern Baptist Convention with the right leadership. 

Brother John remained at Waco for 23 years but one 
year the rumor got around that the pastor would not be 
back next year. It so happened that this rumor came to 
the chairman of the Board of Deacons and some other 
friends. On one of the Sundays he was not preaching, 
a very interesting resolution was passed. 

"First, that the Reverend J. W. Suttle remain as our 
pastor. Second, that steps be taken at once to make a 

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How Dessert Was Found in South Shelby 81 

thorough every-member canvass of the church in order 
that we may have something definite to base our plans 
on for the coming year. Third, assuring you of our love, 
sympathy, cooperation and prayers, that we appreciate 
your sane counsel and wise leadership more than we can 
express and trust that you will lead us in the greater fields 
of usefulness and service. We are:" — and this message 
was signed by W. M. Harrelson, S. L. Dellinger, John 
Wacaster, D. B. Stroup, J. F. Moss, P. J. Kendrick, and 
A. W. Black. 

He ended his ministry at Waco in 1938, but has been 
called back on many occasions to take part in special serv- 
ices, one of the most prominent being the celebration of 
the 100th Anniversary of the church in 1942. 

A comparatively new church, Patterson Grove, called 
Brother John in 1931 and he remained with this church 
in the extreme northeast part of the county through the 
year 1944. 

Patterson was the community once called Sandy Plains 
due to the broad flat sandy fields in that community. The 
church had been organized in 1884 with 72 members, 
most of whom came from an older church at Bethlehem 
which John had pastored previously. 

Patterson Grove was just what Brother John was look- 
ing for. Again he went into a community that was iso- 
lated from its neighbors, with very poor roads, no tele- 
phones, but a willing people. He proved again that a plan 
and a pattern is all that is needed to transform a back- 
ward community into a prosperous, thriving, energetic, 
interesting group of workers. The church grew in all re- 
spects and by 1944, when he resigned, it was at the very 
top, compared with any other rural church in the Asso- 

Although this community had been isolated by lack of 
transportation and communication some of the county's 
hardiest pioneer settlers had made their homes there. 
Among these were the Pattersons, Falls, Grahams, Har- 

82 Canaan in Carolina 

mons, Goforths, Seisms, Elams, Barbours, Randalls, and 

One of Brother Suttle's former friends and associates, 
the Reverend G. P. Hamrick, had been pastor at Patterson 
Grove for a long while and had told him some interesting 
stories about this place. 

At one of the usual summer baptizings some of the tall 
grass had been cut around the pool built in the little stream 
not far from the church. The grass had fallen onto the 
water and a young man who wished to go to the other 
side thought the grass was on the ground. He stepped on 
the grass and into the water he went, causing a big splash 
during the baptismal service. 

Brother Hamrick told another story about one of his 
members, John E. Hardin, who once spanked a little boy. 
It so happened that Mr. Hardin was plowing and a small 
Negro boy was cutting and burning sprouts. The boy 
decided to play a joke on Mr. Hardin. He put the mattock 
blade in the fire while Mr. Hardin was making a round. 
Just before Mr. Hardin got back to the place the boy was 
cutting sprouts, the boy pulled the mattock out of the 
fire and started digging. 

"I've been sproutin' these sprouts so fast dat dis mattic 
done got hot. Jest feel de blade," said the boy. 

Mr. Hardin felt the blade but when it burned his hand, 
he picked up a sprout and warmed the boy. 

In 1909 and 1910 and again in 1915, Brother John was 
pastor at Bethlehem in the vicinity of Kings Mountain. 
But at that time, before the advent of transportation by 
automobile, it was almost impossible to make all of the 
services, and he relinquished his work for churches 
closer by. 

He served Elizabeth in 1911 and 1912 and Poplar 
Springs for one year in 1909. He led the organization and 
was the first pastor at Shelby Eastside in 1921 and of 
Shelby Dover in 1924, but since these two churches were 

How Dessert Was Found in South Shelby 83 

so close to Shelby he soon relinquished their leadership and 
got back to his first love, the country church. 

The first time John W. Suttle ever went into a pulpit 
was at Ross Grove at the age of sixteen where he supplied 
for Elder Tom Dixon. In his sermon he used the text, 
"The Wages of Sin is Death, but the Gift of God is Eternal 
Life Through Jesus Christ Our Lord." When he first spoke 
the occasion was the Wednesday evening service of a week- 
long annual revival. 

Sixty-five years later he spoke again on the same text 
at a Wednesday evening Prayer Service. A week before 
this service, he sent word to the congregation to "Come 
out and hear me and see if I have improved any on my 

It turned out that no one was present who was there 
for the original meeting. In fact, there was only one per- 
son living in the community old enough to have attended 
the service. This was Mr. Tom Dedmon and he said that 
he may have attended but if so, he did not remember it. 


Why The Big Horse Was Called Fred 

"How Firm A Foundation." 

I have planted, Apollos watered 
but God gave the increase. 

I Corinthians 3:6 

John Suttle's experiences as pastor at New Bethel, Lawn- 
dale, and Double Shoals are grouped together because it is 
a part of the same story. These three communities are 
almost one community. Lawndale is a compact little vil- 
lage in the valley of the First Broad River, and its resi- 
dents for the past three-quarters of a century have been 
concerned with operating the textile enterprise of the 
Schenck family. New Bethel is the community just east 
of Lawndale on the east plateau of the river, and Double 
Shoals occupies a similar position on the west plateau. 

John was called to New Bethel and Lawndale in the 
fall of 1913, and in the fall of 1915, became pastor at 
Double Shoals. His grandfather, Elder Joseph Suttle, had 
been one of the founders of New Bethel in 1848 and was 
pastor of this church at the time of his untimely death 
in the spring of 1860. 

The church at Lawndale was a "Union" church. That 


Why the Big Horse Was Called Fred 85 

is, although organized as a Baptist Church in 1899, it had 
an indefinite denominational status. This was thought in 
the beginning to be necessary since a great number of the 
villagers who lived there and worked in the textile plants 
were members of other denominations. They wanted to 
go to church but they did not want to go to a "Baptist" 
church. Baptists did not want to go to a Methodist church 
and neither Methodists nor Baptists wanted a Presbyterian 
church. So the Lawndale Church was a compromise for 
many years. 

New Bethel was one of the most progressive of the rural 
churches in the Association at the turn of the century. 
It was the home church of the Beams, Dixons, Clines, 
Falls, Elams, Carpenters, Griggs, Hords, Lattimores, and 
other families who have been prominent in the religious, 
social, civic, and legal life of Cleveland County. 

This community was the home of Piedmont Academy, 
which was Cleveland's first effort at higher education and 
became the alma mater of a great number of professional 
leaders in the county today. The Reverend W. D. Burns, 
Principal, and other members of the faculty of that small 
academy left an unmistakable stamp of culture and re- 
finement upon that community. Although Piedmont had 
to close its doors with the advent of state-built, tax-paid 
high schools, and though the Baptists built their school at 
Boiling Springs, the influence of the little academy was 
to be felt for at least two generations after it closed in 

Brother John continued as pastor of this church for 36 
years, ending his ministry there in the fall of 1948 when 
New Bethel celebrated its centennial anniversary. 

What Suttle did as pastor at New Bethel was the same 

86 Canaan in Carolina 

he had been able to do at Waco, Double Springs, Beaver 
Dam, and all of the other churches where he stayed a while. 
He led in the erection of a new sanctuary and Sunday 
School plant in 1924. The members insisted that he be 
chairman of the building committee and build it "just as 
good as the one you have at Double Springs." 

He emphasized all of the organizations of the church, 
including missions, evangelism, enlistment, study and 
training. His methods paid off in growth, cooperation, 
and usefulness just as they did at other churches. 

New Bethel already had a good reputation for Biblical 
type stewardship when Suttle arrived. For many years the 
church's custom had been to give sixty per cent to Mis- 
sions and retain forty per cent for local expenses. Even 
though local expenses in all of the churches of the Asso- 
ciation showed a disproportionate rise when compared to 
benevolence, New Bethel has been able to maintain an 
approximately fifty to fifty relationship. 

One notable member of this old church left his entire 
estate, including a large farm, to be administered as a trust 
by New Bethel, known as the Matt London Fund. Over 
the years revenues from this trust have assisted young 
ministers to go on to college, supported missionaries in the 
field, and added to the endowment of Gardner-Webb Col- 
lege. At the centennial in 1948, the church was able to 
show hundreds of visitors a thoroughly reconditioned, re- 
modeled and enlarged sanctuary and educational plant 
which had been done according to suggestions by the 
architect division of the Sunday School Board. Pastor 
Suttle and his family were honored and showered with 
gifts upon his retirement. 

Several little things will always tie John's heart to New 

Why the Big Horse Was Called Fred 87 

Bethel. Among them is a poem by J. D. S. Carpenter who 
was Sunday School Superintendent for nearly a quarter of 
a century. One Christmas he gave him a box which con- 
tained the following doggerel: 


Don't be misled by the name on the box. 

We know this is the season for "ties and sox", 

After all is done and said 

We also know the preacher must be fed, 

So this little box of small arms ammunitions 

We give for the preacher and all relations. 

We hope it don't upset your stomach or liver 

But that you may enjoy it as much as the giver. 

May the Yuletide days be filled with joy and peace 

And throughout the New Year days may it never cease. 

May there be no clouds to obscure the sun 

But may your path grow brighter and brighter, 

Till your race is run. 

Another poem which was later set to music and copy- 
righted by C. P. Gardner, an old-time music school teacher, 
was entitled "Shadows". It was published in 1936 by the 
Stamps-Baxter Music Company in a book called Glory 

One of John's members at New Bethel was John Falls, 
quite rural in both actions and speech. One day Mr. Falls 
was walking down the street in Gastonia accompanied by 
his friend, C. P. Gardner. They passed a barber shop and 
spied a barber who had an abnormally large head that was 
also bald and egg shaped. Said Falls, "See that man yonder. 
He's got two yellars in his head." 

Diplomacy and persistence paid off in the case of John's 
service to the Lawndale Church. For many, many years 
after 1913, he preached in this little "Union" church only 
once a month. He preached the gospel and stuck closely 
to the Scriptures, being very careful not to offend the 
members of other denominations. From time to time, min- 
isters from other denominations were invited. Converts 
who wanted to be baptized the Baptist way were immersed. 
If they wanted to be baptized like Methodists, John let 

88 Canaan in Carolina 

them go to nearby Methodist churches to be sprinkled. 
However, by the year 1952, there was such a predominance 
of Baptist inclined members in the Lawndale Church, it 
was decided to constitute it as a full-fledged Baptist 

At the same time as the village grew, there had been an 
increasing number of Methodists in the membership. They, 
too, wanted a church of their own and under the leader- 
ship of Methodists at nearby Palmtree and financial assist- 
ance from the district, the Methodists provided a church 
building for their congregation and the Baptists a new 
building for theirs. Thus, without a fight or squabble and 
with a minimum of misunderstanding or dissension Lawn- 
dale got two strong Protestant churches. 

Mrs. Suttle has one recollection of Lawndale which she 
will never forget. It was the summer of 1916 when three 
weeks of floods had made a raging torrent of First Broad 

"We were living in Lawndale at the time in a nice home 
which had been provided by Major Schenck, and which 
was located on the east side of the river. John had to go 
across the river to catch a train to make a preaching ap- 
pointment. Everybody knew the river was high but did 
not dream what it would do. 

"I carried John to the railway station and on the way 
back home had to cross the river again. Just as I drove 
the horse off the east end of the bridge, there was a creak- 
ing and tearing. To my horror I looked around and saw 
the bridge pulling away from its mooring to go down the 

"Not only that bridge but practically all of the other 
bridges over Broad River between Casar and Shelby were 
washed away. John was marooned for several days and 
when he did get to come home, he had to cross over in 
a boat." 

Double Shoals is the locale of one of the most famous 

Why the Big Horse Was Called Fred 89 

of the hundreds of John Suttle stories. It has been told 
over and over again using different people and different 
places, but it usually goes something like this: 

A little boy at Double Shoals swallowed a dime. "Call 
a doctor at once," someone advised. 

An interested friend interrupted with, "Oh, no. It 
won't be necessary to call a doctor. Call your pastor, Rev- 
erend John Suttle. He can get money out of the little 
fellow if anybody can." 

On another occasion early in 1916, Brother John was 
driving a big bay horse called Fred. In an informal gath- 
ering before the service one day, Suttle asked some of the 
deacons gathered in the church yard why they thought he 
called his horse Fred. Not a one of them knew. Finally 
one man asked him why. Said John, "I call him Fred be- 
cause that's his name." 

Double Shoals was in the circuit John made each week 
or twice a month, as the case demanded, in making trips 
to New Bethel and Lawndale. 

As in the case of Lawndale, members of his church were 
mainly farmers, but some earned a living working in a 
textile mill at Double Shoals. The church took its name 
from the fact that there were two shoals not far apart in 
Broad River over which the river could be forded except 
at flood stage. 

As he had led other churches to do, he led Double Shoals 
in erecting a building in 1924; in teaching, training, and 
organizing for more efficient and productive church work. 
Three young ministers answered the call during his period 
of leadership. They were J. W. Costner, Leland Royster, 
and L. B. Seism. 

Even though the community was rural and strictly iso- 
lated with poor roads and few telephones, Pastor Suttle 
stuck with them for 32 years and they with him in build- 
ing an almost ideal rural community. 

The Reverend C. O. Greene, who for a number of years 
has been pastor of the New Bethel, Lawndale, Double 
Shoals triangle says, "I thought I knew Brother Suttle 

90 Canaan in Carolina 

pretty well, but I didn't know him at all until I had fol- 
lowed his footsteps in these three communities and found 
how wonderful it was to build on the foundations he laid." 


Double Standards Are Raised 
At Double Springs 

"Trust, Try and Prove Me." 

He leadeth me 
beside the still waters. 

Psalm 23:2 

It was Thanksgiving Day in 1918, and with the Great 
War over, the boys would come home. There was so much 
for which to be thankful. 

John was on his way to Double Springs, his newest pas- 
torate; also, it was the birthplace of the Kings Mountain 
Association and former church home of both his parents 
and grandparents. 

"The weather is a little bad," mused John as he rode 
along the muddy road which paralleled the Southern Rail- 
way. "Ought to be a big crowd, though," he thought, 
"since farmers can't work in the fields. I know the meet- 
ing was announced." 

About two miles from the church he passed the homes 
of four members whose names began with the initials 
"J. L.". They were J. L. (James Lewis) Hamrick; J. L. 
(John Leonard) McSwain; J. L. (Jimmy) Hawkins, and 
J. L. (Jimmy Lane) Greene. "I don't see a *J. L.' in sight," 
he observed. 


92 Canaan in Carolina 

About a mile from the church he passed Washburn 
Switch, a little spur on the railroad. Several farmers were 
feeding the hogs or watering stock, but no one was on the 
road to church. "These folks are going to be late," he 
shrugged to himself. 

Finally he arrived at the church and no one was there. 
He rang the bell, but no one came. The hour was over 
and still no one had come. Heavy hearted, he drove the 
eight miles back to Shelby. 

For 37 years he never let the members at Double Springs 
forget missing that Thanksgiving service. He rubbed it 
in every Sunday for the next year; annually from then on. 
"You could tend the crops and animals the Lord gave 
you. Looks like you could come to Him one hour in a year 
to say 'Thank You','' he chided them. 

The story of Double Springs is the heart of this book. 
What John Suttle did there in 37 years as pastor and what 
the church did under his leadership is the crowning glory 
of his career as a rural pastor. 

Double Springs's record from 1918 to the present day is 
a saga seldom equalled in Southern Baptist annals so far as 
building a church is concerned, uniting a community's 
multiple interests in a church, teaching the Bible, training 
the young people, and making the church a community 

This little church did more than to be one of the first 
rural churches in the South to have a Standard Sunday 
School in the early 20's. It went on to win and maintain 
the Advanced Standard for Sunday Schools, which achieve- 
ment was thought to be impossible in a rural church at 
that time. 

However, nothing was impossible in a church where 
John Suttle was pastor, where J. N. Barnette was Sunday 
School Superintendent, and people were as intelligent and 
eager to learn as they were at Double Springs after World 
War I. 

This little church was not greatly different from other 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 93 

churches in the Association at that time. It had taken its 
name from two springs located about fifty feet apart on 
the banks of a small stream, a tributary of Brushy Creek. 
Around these springs since the middle 40's of the previous 
century, a few settlers had gathered with their families, 
slaves and livestock to hold camp meetings. 

The slaves and livestock drank from the smaller spring 
while the white people drank from the larger one. When 
time for the service came, they gathered under a brush 
arbor near by and heard ministers like Elder Drury Dob- 
bins and Elder Lewis McCurry preach the Gospel from 
two to five hours at a time. 

When John Suttle accepted the call in the early fall of 
1918, World War I was still under way. A number of 
young men from the community were away in Army 
camps or already overseas. No one knew when the fight- 
ing would stop. Then came November 11 and armistice. 

No one suspected that a world-wide epidemic of influ- 
enza would take a much greater toll in lives and suffering 
than did the Kaiser's imperial forces. Double Springs was 
hit hard by the "flu". The winter was cold, roads were 
quagmires, and the pinch of a war economy was felt keen- 
ly. Farmers could get no sugar or coffee except a crumbly 
type of brown sugar and a very cheap brand of coffee 
which was half chicory. 

However, farm prices were good and no one grumbled 
at the hardships. "What we do without, will go to the 
soldier boys," they said. 

Uncle Berry Hamrick had died the year before at the 
age of 97. For years Mr. Suttle had known this venerable 
old patriarch, best known leader of the Hamrick genera- 
tions in Cleveland and Rutherford counties, a direct de- 
scendant of the original George Hamrick who came from 
Germany in 1731. 

Uncle Berry had lived in the community before there 
was a church at Double Springs and before there was a 
Kings Mountain Association. John had known him inti- 

94 Canaan in Carolina 

mately and had talked with him on many occasions about 
the old days; especially of remembrances of grandfather 
Joseph Suttle who once had been pastor at Double Springs. 

In his prime, Uncle Berry was the champion of every- 
thing. He lived the longest, told the best stories, had the 
most wives (three in number), and had the most descend- 
ants of any man in the community. 

However, his greatest claim to fame was his ability to 
pull fodder. His long arms and nimble fingers could race 
up and down a stalk of corn, shear off the blades of fodder, 
and pack them together in small bundles called "hands'*. 
He was so adept with this skill and had such strength and 
endurance that no one for miles around would try to beat 
him. On one occasion a young man who thought he was 
pretty good challenged Uncle Berry. 

"If I don't beat that old man to the end of this row, 
I'll leave the field," said the young braggart. When they 
finished the long row of pulling and tying the fodder, 
Uncle Berry was twenty steps ahead of his nearest oppo- 
nent. Whereupon the young man left the field shaking 
his head in wonder and amazement. "I don't see how a 
man that old can work so fast!" 

Another man in the community who first attracted Mr. 
Suttle's attention was J. B. Hawkins. This old gentleman 
was called upon time and time again for special prayers. 
If it was too hot he was called upon to pray for cooler 
weather; if too cold, to pray for warmer weather. If there 
was a drought, Uncle Jimmy was asked to pray for rain. 
He was also asked to pray for the sick or ask the Lord to 
stop the war. His prayers were very long, very beautiful, 
very earnest, and always effective. 

Mr. Hawkins' son, J. L., still lives in Shelby and is one 
of the few people in Cleveland County older than John 

W. W. Washburn, known widely as "Uncle Wins", was 
superintendent of the Sunday School. He was also a dea- 
con and trustee of the Baptist High School at Boiling 
Springs. His hobby was beautifying the church grounds. 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 95 

Year in and year out he would plant trees, various kinds 
of shrubbery, and would cultivate and water them from 
one season to another. 

George Hamrick was the church treasurer. He was 
known as one of the best farmers in the community as 
well as a very successful business man. He made a special 
effort to see that everybody paid a little and that every 
penny which came to the church treasury was spent or 
distributed properly. 

Preaching the Gospel in a simple rural community is not 
always without its dangers, and the spring of 1919 brought 
an incident which tested John's faith. 

The congregation was still occupying the old church 
building which had a raised platform at the north end 
with windows on either side. The spring morning was 
warm and languid, and someone had lifted the window 
back of him in order to get a little fresh air. Over the 
window sill just back of the parson, furtively yet noise- 
lessly, peered the head of a large blacksnake. Mr. Snake 
poked his head through the crack in the window, licked 
his tongue in and out, as blacksnakes usually do, using it 
as a type of snake radar to detect any unfavorable sights 
or sounds. 

What he heard was favorable and what he saw not too 
alarming, so he slithered right across the window sill into 
the pulpit behind Preaching John. 

"I have prided myself upon being afraid of neither man 
nor beast and having enough personal courage to fight 
the devil himself, but I was not made to stay in the pulpit 
with a blacksnake. So far as I know, that snake is the 
only thing that ever made me leave the pulpit," says John 
without apology. 

One of the deacons, J. C. Washburn, grabbed a piece 
of wood from the nearby stove and hastily killed the snake. 
The service proceeded, but not without a little fear and 
misgiving, and not until someone closed the pulpit win- 

96 Canaan in Carolina 

Members at Double Springs were probably no more or 
no less neighborly or quarrelsome than members of other 
churches in that day and time. If there was a matter of 
morals or a dispute over a property line, this matter was 
expected by all to come to the church for settlement. If 
any one of the principals involved did not agree, it became 
a matter of church discipline. 

Very soon after coming to Double Springs, there was 
a dispute over a property line between two neighbors, 
A. F. McSwain and Irvin Philbeck. The new preacher 
visited both neighbors, looked over the property, had each 
one state his problem, and promised to take it up with the 
church right away. In a week or two nothing had hap- 
pened so Mr. McSwain, being the younger, more vigorous, 
and of a fiery nature, thought he had to have a settlement 
right away. 

As a ruse to win his case, he offered to resign his church 
membership and requested his letter. Brother Suttle enter- 
tained a motion that it be granted and had someone primed 
to make and second the motion. The letter was granted 
summarily with no fuss whatever. This was exactly what 
the young man did not want as he later told the church. 
He asked forgiveness, was reinstated and there was no 
more fussing over property lines. 

Another case of discipline which came before the church 
before Suttle's time was the matter of the late D. A. F. 
Hamrick who was called in for reprimand for swearing. 
It seemed that he and one Martin Greene had been court- 
ing the daughters of John Bridges and had dared to stay 
as late as 9:00 P.M. Mr. Bridges came in, sent his daugh- 
ters to bed and told the boys to go home. 

This made Mr. Hamrick so mad that he ran out of the 
yard and began rolling over and over in Mr. Bridges' wheat 
field. "Dock, get up. You'll mash down the man's wheat," 
Martin told Hamrick. Whereupon Hamrick replied: 
"Damn the wheat and damn the man. I'll court somebody 
else's daughter." For this loss of temper he had to get up 








Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 97 

in church and recant, saying he was sorry. Afterwards he 
became one of the best and most dependable members of 
the church. 

The best way to illustrate what was accomplished at 
Double Springs in 37 years, I think, is to contrast the 
church and community before 1918 and after 1954. 

Physically the community was not too different from 
any other rural community in Cleveland County at that 
time. It was about eight miles from the county seat, with 
the most thickly settled portion being along the Southern 
Railroad. Residents, who attended the church, farmers by 
occupation, lived within three to four miles. There were 
no radios, television sets, paved roads, or telephones and 
few automobiles. The pattern of life was almost as simple 
as it had been when the church was founded in 1844. 

Now, with the passing of two World Wars, two or three 
financial crises, and a great depression, and with the mod- 
ernization so characteristic of rural North Carolina, the 
community has everything available to residents of the 
county seat in Shelby. Every family in the church has 
one or more cars, a television set, telephone, radio, and all 
the modern conveniences found anywhere. Three major 
paved highways traverse the community. The local school 
has been consolidated at nearby Lattimore and children 
are transported in modern buses. No one walks to church 
any more. 

The Industrial Revolution in this community has re- 
versed the occupation ratios. Then, nine out of ten per- 
sons got all of their income from their labor on a farm; 
now, one or more members of nearly every family has an 
income from a non-farming source such as textiles, retail 
selling, teaching, or some other occupation. However, 
there are still some rural residents and a few are totally 
dependent upon farm income. 

Forty years ago horses and mules contributed all horse- 
power for farming and transportation. Now a great fleet 

98 Canaan in Carolina 

of trucks and tractors have multiplied that horsepower 
hundreds of times. 

Per capita income at Double Springs then was prob- 
ably less than $100 per year. Now it is close to $1,500 
per capita per year. 

Following is a more detailed contrast in outline. 

Meeting House: Then — small frame building approxi- 
mately 40' x 60' valued at $1,250. Now — Sanctuary, edu- 
cational addition, scout hut, sexton's home and parsonage 
all valued at $110,000, with a replacement value near 

Meetings : Then — twice a month with one of the meet- 
ings being a Saturday Conference the day before preach- 
ing Sunday. Now — preaching twice each Sunday by a full 
time pastor with prayer service, teachers' meetings, and 
choir meetings weekly, with other meetings almost every 
night in the week. 

Equipment: Then — one foot pedal organ, fifty hard 
benches, a pulpit stand, and three typical country church 
chairs, plus a few curtains on wires for the four Sunday 
School classes, one wood burning stove with about thirty 
feet of pipe circling around to give more heat before leav- 
ing the flue and the tall ceiling. These items comprised 
the total equipment of the church, except two little out- 
buildings, one marked "Men" and the other "Women". 

Now — comfortable opera type seats for the sanctuary, 
all the recommended equipment for Standard Sunday 
Schools and Training Unions throughout all departments; 
electric church organ, pianos for every department, tape 
recorder, public address system, modern plumbing for in- 
door rest rooms, a well equipped church kitchen, large 
supply of tools for landscaping and church beautification, 
along with a great number of teaching and training aids 
such as maps, charts, and photographs. 

Library: Then — unheard of. Now — approximately 
300 volumes. 

Recreation: Now — supervised with planned socials, 
tmnis, volleyball, and other equipment. 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 99 

Training Union : Then — not yet introduced in North 
Carolina. Now — Story Hour, Junior, Intermediate, Senior 
and Adult Unions with a total of 91 members. 

Woman's Missionary Society: Then — not organized. 
Now — a membership of 93 in five circles. 

Brotherhood: Then — there were none anywhere. 
Now — twelve meetings a year of all the leading men in 
the church. 

Missions: Then — a small box was placed in the back 
of the church and the women and others who were inter- 
ested, put in small contributions once a month. The box 
was opened each fall to take money to the Association 
where the annual contribution was collected. This box 
sometimes yielded $12 to $15. Now — the church gives a 
total of $5,606.33 to Missions including contributions to 
the Cooperative Program, Baptist Hospital, Home for the 
Aging, the Orphanage, Gardner- Webb College, and other 
Mission enterprises. It supports a Missionary to Brazil, 
Mrs. Maxey Kirk. 

Per Capita Giving: Then — the per capita gifts to all 
causes amounted to approximately $9.77. Now — the per 
capita gift for Missions alone the year after Mr. Suttle 
left was approximately $16 per year, and the per capita 
contribution for all causes was a little over $72. This fig- 
ure is almost double the per capita giving of the Southern 
Baptist Convention. 

Church Music: Double Springs has always been a 
singing church and there was a good choir even in the old 
days, but it was limited by poor equipment and by un- 
trained leaders. Now — there are three choirs with qualified 
leaders and musicians to continue the training and nearly 
100 persons are enrolled in the music program. 

Pastor's Salary: The church paid John Suttle $3 50 
for services the first year and paid him $1800 for his last 
year's work. The full time pastor's annual salary now is 
$4,500 plus a nice home and a travel allowance. 

Hall of Fame: Photographs of most of the twenty 
pastors with biographical summary and their contribution 

100 Canaan in Carolina 

to growth and development of the church prepared by 
J. C. Washburn. 

Membership: The resident membership was approxi- 
mately 310 persons. Now — a little more than 3 50 resident 
members with another 150 non-resident members. 

Sunday School: Then — there were only four classes; 
two for adults and two for children, meeting in the four 
corners of the church with a flimsy curtain strung on 
wires between them. Children included persons up to 
about fourteen years of age and adults were all persons 
older. Small colored cards and Sunday School leaflets aug- 
mented the Bible study of the lesson. 

The greatest contribution to the growth and develop- 
ment of the church at Double Springs was centered in the 
organizing and building of the Sunday School. Just as the 
secret of the Sunday School was the success of the church, 
so were John Suttle and Jasper Barnette with the leaders 
they trained, the key to the success of the Sunday School. 

Double Springs had had a Sunday School since shortly 
after the Civil War. Mr. Edmond Lovelace had become 
obsessed with the idea that even though the community 
could not afford public schools, a great deal of education 
could be given his people in Sunday sessions at the little 
church. So, not only was the Bible taught and explained, 
but children brought their slates and pencils to do sums 
and to learn grammar. Both young and old went through 
the old Blue Back Speller and learned to spell and at the 
same time, absorbed the homely philosophy and factual 
information from that book. 

During the early 70's by the time John Suttle was born, 
Mr. Lovelace had stimulated enough interest in Sunday 
School to have services every Sunday even though there 
was no preaching. He even kept it going through the 
winter in what he called, "an evergreen Sunday School". 

By present standards, however, the Sunday School of 
1917 was little better than the Sunday School of the 70's. 
Then came Suttle and Barnette. John had first met Jasper 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 101 

in Shelby when he helped to organize the Second Baptist 
Church and was its pastor. Then Jasper had moved into 
the country and was at Double Springs as a farmer when 
Mr. Suttle was called. 

Both men read all they could get their hands on about 
the new type Sunday School which was sweeping the 
Southern Baptist Convention. John attended all of the 
meetings of the Convention. He had met Arthur Flake, 
I. J. VanNess, Prince E. Burroughs, Dr. B. W. Spillman 
and other early pioneers of the better Sunday School 

By the time Arthur Flake's outline for "Building a 
Standard Sunday School" had been printed and before it 
was in book form, Suttle and Barnette had some ideas of 
what they must do at Double Springs. "Let us build the 
finest sanctuary possible for a country church, and along 
with it, classrooms to provide for the most modern rural 
Sunday School in the South," they said. 

The war was over! The people still had a little war 
money in their pockets. The joy of victory and of the 
boys coming home gave them a lot of confidence in the 
future. In 1919-20 the plant was built. The total cost 
was between $25,000 and $30,000, not counting thousands 
of hours of volunteer labor. Joe Greene, C. A. Bridges, 
and Preston Hawkins became the steering committee for 
a larger building committee of 25 members. 

A few of the members thought it was foolishness to 
build such a large plant out in the country. "We won't 
fill this building in twenty years," said one. "Country 
people just won't be regimented and graded into classes 
like they are in the city," said another. Still others thought 
it was the thing to do. "My wife and I were planning to 
build a new house this fall, but if you think we ought to 
build the church now, our home can wait," one deacon 
told Brother John. 

One of John's first sermons was on "Stewardship" and 
most of the others he concentrated on that subject or 
upon Missions, Christian Education, giving to the local 

102 Canaan in Carolina 

poor or giving to the building fund. "We will either give 
the money to the Lord's program or in some way the Lord 
will get it. Your house may burn down, you may lose 
your crop from drought, flood, or fire, but the Lord will 
get it," he said. Then lay people of the community gave 
sacrificially and bountifully and the church was almost 
paid for by the time it was completed. 

The Sunday School really did not get going until after 
the erection of the new church. Then with departments 
for all ages, proper classrooms, and teaching aids, more 
pupils showed up every Sunday. 

The church first took a census. Superintendent Barnette 
found that within a radius of four miles there were more 
than enough Baptists and Baptist inclined persons to fill 
the church. He led all the officers and teachers to study 
Arthur Flake's book which by 1922 had been put into 
print and had become the second Gospel for the Baptist 
Sunday School Board in Nashville. "The New Testament 
is our whole authority and contains full instructions on 
how to build a church, but 'Building a Standard Sunday 
School' is the next best thing in telling you how to build 
a great church," John told his members. 

Then came years of teaching and training and enlist- 
ment. Men in overalls and women in gingham aprons 
came to church, not only on Sunday but through the week, 
to take study courses to learn how to teach, how to study 
the Bible and how to enlist young people. They took 
course after course offered by the Sunday School Board; 
some took as many as eight study courses per year, many 
of them getting the Blue Seals and Gold Seals which rep- 
resented study of all of the books available to Sunday 
School teachers. 

John Suttle took every study course. Usually he would 
get someone else to teach the course, then set an example 
by taking all of the lectures and the final written examina- 
tion. He did not ask any Sunday School teacher or officer 
to do anything he himself did not do. 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 103 

In addition to his work at Double Springs, John was 
pastor at Double Shoals, Lawndale, New Bethel, Waco, 
and Zoar. In these five other churches he was trying to 
do the same thing, and at the same time was preaching the 
Gospel, marrying the young people, visiting the sick, and 
burying the dead. 

Carefully and particularly he gave a tithe of every dollar 
of his income back into the church which had paid him. 
On all occasions he was optimistic and continuously gave 
encouragement to church leaders to whom the new meth- 
ods were quite confusing and sometimes meaningless. 

He mastered the Six Point record system of the Sunday 
School and later the Eight Point record system of the 
Training Union. Sometimes he preached whole sermons 
on each of the points of being present, on time, studying 
the lesson, bringing the Bible, giving an offering, staying 
for preaching. 

He lived and breathed and preached Sunday School. To 
him the Sunday School was the Teaching Service of the 
church. "All of this is church just as much as the Preach- 
ing Service," he would say to his members. 

After a few years of maintaining merely Standard Sun- 
day School and after half a dozen other churches in the 
Association had also become standard, Suttle and Barnette 
began to consider the impossible. "Brother John, do you 
think we could possibly reach the Advanced Standard in 
our Sunday School at Double Springs?" Jasper asked the 
pastor one day. "We don't know what we can do until we 
try," was his answer. 

This was the beginning of one of the most amazing 
accomplishments of any rural church in approximately 
20,000 rural churches in the Southern Baptist Convention 
at that time. Advanced Standards were being formulated 
and outlined and planned for a great number of the more 
advanced city churches in Nashville, Birmingham, Atlanta, 
Dallas, Raleigh, and Richmond. No one up until that time 

104 Canaan in Carolina 

had dreamed that an Advanced Standard Sunday School 
could be built in a rural community with only 300 mem- 

Classes would have to be doubled in number, depart- 
ment organizations would have to be perfected, there 
would have to be unlimited equipment: tables, cabinets, 
teaching aids, maps, charts, and complicated record sys- 
tems. In a city church the task was almost insuperable. 
In a rural situation, it was well nigh impossible. 

Jasper Barnette created the organization on paper. He 
made suggestions to the deacons about dividing the church 
building into departments and classes. It was going to 
take a lot of time and money. Farmers worked all day in 
the fields, then came to the church and worked until bed 
time to make the necessary changes. An old garage became 
a workshop for building cabinets. Women varnished and 
painted dozens of items. 

Another census had to be taken, scores of workers were 
enlisted, and new study courses were taken every month. 
More men and women who had barely finished the sixth 
grade, were reading books and magazines and learning 
more about the theory and practice of Sunday School 
than the average pastor in North Carolina knew at that 

It finally happened. The reports were sent in to Nash- 
ville; names, records, inventories of equipment, grades of 
pupils, certified attendance at teacher's meetings, and sum- 
maries of statistical tables, all went to the Board. Officials 
at the Sunday School Board were amazed. They sent back 
for re-checking. Again the figures were given and the long 
sought, highly coveted banner for Advanced Standard 
Sunday Schools was first displayed in a rural church at 
Double Springs on a bright Sunday in February, 1922. 

J. N. Barnette was not in Double Springs that day to 
see the banner raised. Like Moses, he did not remain in 
the Promised Land to taste the fruits of victory. Unlike 
Moses, it was not for sins committed, but it was for excel- 
lence in leading and planning Sunday School work. He 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 105 

was chosen as Sunday School field worker for all of North 
Carolina in the late fall of 1921. 

He moved to Dunn, North Carolina, and left at Double 
Springs his "Joshua" in the person of A. V. Washburn, 
Sr., who had assisted him for more than three years. A 
farmer and logging camp "sawyer", Washburn and his 
wife, Edith, soon mastered the details of this great experi- 
ment in Sunday School and kept it on the Advanced 
Standard until 1926 when A. V. was appointed a special 
worker for the Convention and moved to Sylva, North 

The efficiency and excellence of the Sunday School pro- 
gram was then maintained for many years under the lead- 
ership of Fred E. Greene, a rural mail carrier. 

An amazing coincidence is that the Baptist Church at 
Dunn, North Carolina, reached the Advanced Standard 
only two weeks later. While Dunn was not strictly a rural 
church, it was a very small town in a rural area. 

A portion of Dunn's accomplishment can be traced 
back to John Suttle. John had recommended J. N. Bar- 
nette to the Baptist State Convention to be a field worker 
for the North Carolina Sunday School program. In his 
spare time at Dunn, Jasper had instructed and trained a 
young man named C. C. Warren who became enthused 
about the idea and led his church to build a Standard Sun- 
day School. 

"I think I got a great deal of inspiration and informa- 
tion from both Jasper Barnette and John Suttle, and I 
have loved and appreciated both of them through the 
years," says Dr. Warren who is now pastor of North Caro- 
lina's largest Baptist Church in Charlotte, and is past presi- 
dent of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Dr. Warren says he knows more about John Suttle than 
Mr. Suttle realizes. "I know Jasper Barnette was devoted 
to him, and it was John W. Suttle whose exemplary life 
and devotion to his Lord made a definite impact on the 
life of Jasper Barnette. 

"What can be said about his influence on Jasper can 

106 Canaan in Carolina 

also be said to an appreciable degree upon A. V. Wash- 
burn, Jr. If Double Springs Church has accomplished no 
more than giving to Southern Baptists Jasper Barnette 
and A. V. Washburn, Jr., only eternity can reveal the 
power of a church that can provide an atmosphere in 
which these two men heard the call of God for their lives. 
Probably more than any other human being, John Suttle 
is the instrument God used to guide them in the paths of 
inestimable service which they have followed." 

How J. N. Barnette got his new job is interesting. John 
Suttle had been a member of the General Board of the 
Baptist State Convention for some time, and in one of the 
meetings, the late E. L. Middieton, Convention Secretary, 
made the statement that he was looking for a man who 
could do field work necessary for enlarging the Sunday 
School program. 

"I've got your man," said John. 

"What does he do and what sort of education does he 
have?" asked Mr. Middieton. 

"He is a farmer right now and is between the plow 
handles. He hasn't had very much formal education but 
he is the best man in North Carolina," added John. 

Mr. Middieton was a little dubious about taking an un- 
educated plow hand to lead Baptist Sunday School work 
for the entire State of North Carolina, but he agreed to 
meet Jasper at Hickory, North Carolina, the following 
Sunday. Jasper was to speak at a regional Sunday School 
conference on that day. After Mr. Middieton heard him 
speak the first time, he was convinced and agreed with 
John Suttle that they had found the right man. 

Barnette's work in North Carolina was outstanding. In 
fact, so impressive and so successful that in 1927, he was 
called to Nashville, Tennessee, to work for the Sunday 
School Board and the entire Southern Baptist Convention. 

The accomplishments at Double Springs meant much 
to many people. It meant most to members of the church, 
their families, and the community. As the news spread of 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 107 

what could be done in an isolated rural area, other churches 
did the same thing. 

A few years later John Suttle was pastor of seven Bap- 
tist churches at the same time, all of which had Standard 
Sunday Schools. 

As moderator of the Association he saw to it that em- 
phasis was placed upon Sunday School work along Asso- 
ciational lines. Soon nearly every church in the bounds of 
the Association had a Standard Sunday School. 

In the ten year period from 1920 to 1930, Double 
Springs was one of the few churches in the Southern Bap- 
tist Convention to be considered a "laboratory", an ex- 
ample of what could be done in rural situations. Nearly 
every member of the staff of Sunday School personnel in 
Raleigh and Nashville came to visit this church. Depart- 
mental leaders would hold Associational and regional con- 
ferences at this little church, and then in the far flung 
rapidly expanding organization for Baptist work in all the 
other Southern states would say, "It has been done; it can 
be done in your church. Here is how it was done at Double 

Writers from the Editorial Department prepared nu- 
merous articles about the church and illustrated them with 
photographs of the buildings, church activities, and pic- 
tures of the pastor. One of the most extensive articles 
was by Dr. Hight C. Moore who contributed several pages 
and pictures to the Sunday School Builder. Following are 
a few quotations from his article: 

"Good leaven in the local community; positive influ- 
ence in the Association; known far and wide for her 

"More than a century the Civic, Cultural, Social, and 
Spiritual magnet in a neighborhood of sturdy folk with 
whom doing well demands well-being. 

"The premises harmoniously landscaped, beautifully laid 
out, grassed and terraced; set with suitable shrubs and 

108 Canaan in Carolina 

"A band of workers unashamed, studying to show them- 
selves approved unto God. 

"Mother of sons and daughters distinguished in wider 
fields of service; founder of several churches in its envir- 
ons; birthplace of a great district Association. 

"A commonwealth and kingdom dynamo of pure re- 
ligion, high morality, good citizenship, community uplift, 
world betterment. 

"Small of stature, but sinewy and strong with every 
brain cell and heart fiber functioning well, Pastor Suttle 
seems well qualified in every way. He has been a good 
minister of Jesus Christ — apt to teach, sound in doctrine, 
sober in judgment, safe in leadership, evangelical and 
evangelistic, tenderly sympathetic with all good, yet strict- 
ly uncompromising with any evil; ardent advocate of 
Christian education and zealous promoter of good citizen- 
ship, head of a happy home with a worthy wife and four 
children, all on their way to the home eternal in the 

"Efficiency at rural Double Springs is just as evident 
and effectual as it could be in metropolitan Dallas, At- 
lanta, or Baltimore: efficiency in the preaching service, in 
the teaching service, in the training service, in the Mis- 
sionary Society, in all benevolences for the support of the 
church at home and the spread of the Gospel abroad. 

"A country church can be competent! 

"A community predominantly Christian with neighbors 
neighborly and rich in the gold of the Golden Rule. 

"A church membership of diligent, devout, dependable, 
developing young people and adults. 

"A citizenry to count on throughout the region in good 
roads and residences; in schools and stores and shops, in 
manners and morals and money, in personality, politics, 
and public welfare; in loyalty to the country's call. 

"A contribution in brief to human welfare the world 
over and down the ages." 

John has long since forgiven the members for missing 
that first Thanksgiving service in his ministry at Double 

Double Standards Are Raised at Double Springs 109 

Springs. However, perhaps his repeated censure, remon- 
strance, upbraiding, reproof and rebuke was just the stimu- 
lus to goad, lead and guide the church to win such a 
citation from Dr. Hight C. Moore. 
Who knows? 

"Shelby Daily Star" 
September 3, 1920 


Clear the tracks for Automobile Day 
At Double Springs Baptist Sunday School 
Climb in and come along. 
We are rolling with a merry song, 
To the happy place we all belong, 
With the Double Springs Jolly Throng. 
Bring your Fathers and your Mothers, 
Bring your sisters and your brothers, 
Bring your Uncles and your Aunties, 
Bring your Grandmas and your Grand-daddies, 
Bring your Kiddies and your babies, 
Bring your friends and your neighbors, 
No matter what kind of weather, 
We will have a fine time together. 
And don't you fail to remember, 
It's the second Sunday in September. 
Remember we will be looking for you at 9:30 a.m., Sep- 
tember 12, 1920. Automobile Day. 

Train up an auto in the way it should go, and when it 
is old it will not depart from going to church. 

J. W. Suttle, Pastor 
J. N. Barnette, Superintendent 

A Resolution Authorized by the Double Springs Baptist 
Church in Conference July 7, 1954. 

WHEREAS, The Reverend John W. Suttle, beloved pastor of the 
church for the past thirty-six years, has offered his resignation as 
pastor, effective September 26, 1954, and 

110 Canaan in Carolina 

WHEREAS, The church deeply regrets the loss of so valuable 
a pastor as Brother Suttle has been, now therefore, 

BE IT RESOLVED, That in the resignation of Brother Suttle 
from the Ministry in this church we have lost one of the greatest 
of the servants and ministers of God that ever filled a pulpit, and 
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this church and community 
will never be able to properly evaluate the wonderful services he 
has performed for us and among us as he so faithfully preached 
the Gospel of his Lord and our Lord for these many years, and 
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the membership of this 
church express its love and appreciation to Mrs. Suttle for being 
his loyal co-worker and helper during these many years of his 
ministry to us, and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the church plant, the 
church organizations, the church gifts both for ourselves and others, 
and the reception of so many souls into the fellowship of this 
church, are all monuments to the love he had for us and the service 
he so faithfully performed for all who would come under his pro- 
gressive and courageous leadership, and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this church recognizes and 
deeply appreciates the guiding hand that he has extended to so 
many young ministers from this and other churches as they endea- 
vored to prepare themselves to answer the call of their Lord, and 
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the members of this church 
recall to memory and deeply appreciate his faithful attendance 
upon all the duties, services, and various meetings which were a 
part of the church work; that we now thank him that he never 
allowed the inclemency of the weather or the conditions of travel 
to keep him from the appointed task of serving his people and his 
God, and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the services of leadership 
and love he has so faithfully performed for the three generations 
who have come under the influence of his ministry in this church, 
will never be forgotten, and 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That a copy of this resolution 
be presented to Brother Suttle as he terminates his ministry among 
us, that a copy be placed by the church clerk in the permanent 
records of the church, and that a copy be sent to the Biblical 
Recorder for publication. 

This the 26th day of September, 1954. 



F. E. Greene 

A. L. Calton 

J. S. Gillespie 

Committee on Resolutions 


Adventures Of An Eight Year 
At Beaver Dam 

"Jesus, Lover of My Soul." 

He that believeth on the Son 
hath everlasting life. 

John 3: 36 

Under the giant pine the little boy fell to his knees, 
cushioning his little body on a springy bed of moss and 
pine needles, and looked upward. Upward was over a 
hundred feet to the top of this largest tree in a virgin 
stand of timber around old Beaver Dam Baptist Church. 

He bowed his head and prayed. It was a simple prayer 
in simple terms, telling the Lord of repentance for sins 
committed, asking for forgiveness, and expressing belief 
in Jesus. 

"I knew I was saved then and there," John Suttle has 
told friends over and over again. "A cousin, Jesse Wray, 
knelt with me that day, and my father and uncle stood 

John has been a member of Beaver Dam much of the 
time since 1880 and expects his final earthly rites to be 
said from that church. 

Beaver Dam has been one of the favorite churches 


112 Canaan in Carolina 

among the 37 organizations he has pastored, and he vividly 
recalls many of the personal experiences in his early years 

"I have always been grateful that 'Uncle' Neely Green 
had courage enough to make a motion to accept me," 
says John in remembrance. "I can still hear him say, 'Are 
you sure you love the Lord?' and 'Are you sure you want 
to be baptized and join this church?' and 'Are you sure 
you will make us a good member?'. To all these questions 
I answered a firm 'Yes, Sir'." 

In the fall of the same year he joined, Brother John 
wanted to do something for his church, so he spent several 
days picking cotton. At the end of the week he had the 
sum of 25 cents which he wished to give. On preaching 
Sunday he went to church and tried to hand the quarter 
to the church treasurer. The treasurer, a big, gruff, un- 
thinking man said, "Put your money in your pocket, boy. 
We've got enough men in this congregation to pay all the 

This almost broke little John's heart, and not knowing 
what else to do he went to "Uncle" Neely who had voted 
to let him come into the church. "I'll take this quarter 
and see that it gets to the right place," said the kindly 
old man. 

"I made a resolution then," John says, "that if ever I 
grew up and had anything to do with a church, I would 
encourage children to come and join; not only to join, but 
to give a portion of their money to the Lord." 

That he has always done in his churches, and their rec- 
ord of stewardship among young and old is evidence he 
was right. 

In 1950, upon the 15th anniversary at Beaver Dam as 
pastor, and 70 years after he joined, the pastor did an 
unusual thing. He had a florist send a basket of flowers 
to place on the table in front of the pulpit. "I wish to 
call your attention to these flowers and ask you to honor 
the memory of a man who was brave enough and who had 

Adventures of an Eight Year Old at Beaver Dam 113 

faith enough to make a motion for a timid eight-year-old 
boy to join this church. His name, Neely Green." 

John was pastor at Beaver Dam for twenty years from 
193 5 through 1954. At the end of the twenty years, the 
church held remarkable memorial services and presented 
him with a gold watch and a $100 check. Senator Robert 
Morgan, a deacon, Sunday School teacher, and an active 
lay-leader, had charge of the program and paid the retir- 
ing minister an eloquent tribute. 

In reviewing the growth of the church in twenty years, 
Senator Morgan pointed out that when John arrived the 
church had a budget of $1,200. During the last year of 
his ministry, the budget was $15,475. In 1935 the mem- 
bership was 3 53 and in 1954 it was 5 32. During that time 
142 persons were baptized into fellowship of the church. 

During Mr. Suttle's period of leadership, Beaver Dam 
had three separate building campaigns, in which more 
than $100,000 was raised and spent on plant improvements 
which included a new Sunday School annex with eighteen 
new classrooms, a new heating plant, new furnishings and 
decorations for the sanctuary, and a $22,000 parsonage 
which was ready for the new pastor, the Reverend Oscar 
Funderburke who succeeded Mr. Suttle. 

Following his letter of resignation to Beaver Dam, the 
congregation voted to accept it only on the condition that 
John Suttle would accept the title, Pastor Emeritus, for 
the rest of his life. The end of his ministry there was no 
dwindling, tapering-off affair. He baptized nine candi- 
dates for membership on the Sunday morning he submit- 
ted his resignation. 

Mr. Suttle had no more trouble with finances at Beaver 
Dam than he did at any other church. He simply preached 
stewardship and the money always came in. During the 
war in 1943, Holt McPherson, editor of the Daily Star at 
Shelby, heard that Beaver Dam had bought a $1,000 sav- 
ings bond. To him this seemed an unusual thing for a 
rural church to do, so he called up the minister and ex- 
pressed his amazement that a church in the country would 

114 Canaan in Carolina 

have money in the treasury, and further, that they would 
see fit to invest it in war bonds. Mr. Suttle replied: "It 
isn't unusual for Beaver Dam and neither did we spend 
all of our money for a war bond. I think I can predict 
that my five other country churches will have some cash 
surpluses in the treasury this fall and some of them also 
may invest in war bonds." 

These war bonds later were converted to cash to pay 
for the building program. 

Following his resignation at Beaver Dam, Brother Suttle 
got two letters which he prizes very highly. One was 
from the Reverend J. C. Gillespie of Reidsville, North 
Carolina, a life-long friend and retired Missionary which 
reads as follows: 

November 2, 1950 
My dear Brother Suttle: 

Well, Sunday was one of the most enjoyable days in my experi- 
ence, I think. Socially it was so fine and surely the Lord was 
present, and the fellowship was so sweet. I do rejoice in the great 
work of Beaver Dam during the past century, and certainly the 
work as it has so encouragingly gone forward during the later 
years. Especially do we note great progress during the time of 
your pastorate. I know you are happy and we former pastors are 
happy with you. I thank you and the church so much for the 
invitation to be present with you on your centennial. 

And how much do I appreciate the check for $50.00 Brother 
Humphries handed me. This is much larger than I have ever re- 
ceived for a single service. Thank you and the church very much 
for this check. 

Rest assured I shall not forget you and the Beaver Dam people. 
May the Lord's great blessings continue with you in your great 
work for Him. 

Sincerely and cordially, 
Jas. C. Gillespie 

The other letter was written by the chairman of the 
Board of Deacons and the Church Clerk upon the au- 
thorization of the congregation as follows: 

September 10, 1954 
Dear Brother Suttle: 

The people of Beaver Dam Church will never be able to tell, or 
in any way express, their feelings of gratitude for such an inspir- 

Adventures of an Eight Year Old at Beaver Dam 115 

ing pastor, leader, and guide as you have been to us here at Beaver 

Your grateful praise, in times of thanksgiving, your wit and 
humor as you visited among us, and your heart-felt sympathy in 
times of sorrow will always endear you to our hearts. 

Our hearts always swell with pride when we think of the many 
honors that have come to our pastor and just the mention of your 
name anywhere in our Association and state would always register 
recognition on their faces. 

Truly we can say, as all Southern Baptists, that you are the 
"Dean of Pastors" and we have been highly honored to have such 
a man lead our humble people. 

We will not think of you as leaving us because we will always 
want you in our presence. 

We pray God's blessings on you as you begin your well earned 
rest and we will always remember you in our prayers. 
With heart felt love and devotion. 

The members of Beaver Dam Baptist Church 
(s) Yates McGinnis 

Chairman Board Deacons 
(s) E. D. Humphries 
Church Clerk 

Beaver Dam, in many ways, may be considered the home 
church of the Hamrick generation in Cleveland County, 
and the Hamricks are the most numerous of any family 
group in Cleveland and Rutherford counties. All of the 
Hamricks in North Carolina originally descended from 
George Hamrick, or Homrick, who came from Germany 
in 1731 and settled for a time in Pennsylvania. A short 
time before the American Revolution one of his sons came 
to this section as a pioneer settler. Uncle Berry Hamrick, 
who was born in 1820 and died in 1917 at the age of 97, 
was a member at Beaver Dam for many years but later 
joined Double Springs. He had a good memory and was 
very fond of talking about the old days, and Mr. Suttle 
as a child often talked with him at both churches. 

One of the most colorful Hamricks of the Beaver Dam 
Community was "Tater" Jim Hamrick. He was called by 
this nickname because he liked potatoes so well; that is, 
sweet potatoes — the Southern yam. He ate them every 

116 Canaan in Carolina 

day and studied methods of growing potatoes so well that 
he could grow more on the ground than any of his neigh- 

In fact, he had to raise a lot of potatoes to feed his 22 
children. He reared 21 sons and one daughter to manhood 
and womanhood, and when the occasion afforded, took 
them all to church. 

One afternoon a drummer for Stetson hats was trying 
to make a sale to one of the village merchants when in 
strolled "Tater Jim" with his 21 sons to buy hats. "Listen," 
gasped the Stetson salesman. "I'll give each son a high top 
beaver hat if they will put them all on at the same time 
and march around the court square bearing a placard stat- 
ing that Stetson presented the hats!" 

"Tater" gratefully accepted, but a second thought con- 
vinced him that Beaver hats were no good for farmer 
boys. He asked that the gift be changed to soft felt hats. 
It was changed, and "Tater Jim" led his 21 sons in a sen- 
sational march around the Shelby court square wearing 
the new hats Stetson had given them. 

Beaver Dam was a logical location for a church. The 
church is on a ridge between two small contributing ele- 
ments of Beaver Dam Creek. The creek got its name from 
the fact that in pioneer days considerable numbers of 
beavers worked in the head waters making their dams and 
rearing their young. 

It was located on the south side of the Shelby-Ruther- 
ford post road; the main east-west highway through the 
county, and was near a bold spring at which the early 
settlers could get water for themselves and their animals. 
Sometime prior to 1850, several ministers had been con- 
ducting services at a stand or brush arbor. There was 
so much interest in these services that they decided to 
organize a regular Baptist Church. 

On December 23, 18 50, a presbytery was convened and 
about thirty persons who had letters or who wanted to be 
baptized met and organized a Baptist Church. The exact 
records of this first meeting are not available but in April 

Adventures of an Eight Year Old at Beaver Dam 117 

1881, a resolution stated: "Whereas the presbytery that 
organized the church failed to record their proceedings, 
or if they did, the clerk failed to transcribe them. We, 
therefore, for the satisfaction of the succeeding members 
of this church, certify that the presbytery was constituted 
from the deaconship and ministers of the following 
churches: Sandy Run, Boiling Springs, Mount Sinai and 
Zion, and that the presbytery met on December 23, 18 50." 

Most of the members were named McSwain, Jones, 
Hamrick, Harrill, Bostic, or Bowen. 

Several close acquaintances of the Suttle family were 
among the first pastors — the Reverends R. P. Logan, Rob- 
ert Poston, Lewis McSwain, Dove Pannel, Landrum Ezell, 
G. M. Webb, and J. M. Bridges who was pastor at the time 
John made his confession and became a member. 

The earliest ministers received from $7.00 to $15.00 
per year for their services, but the year John joined the 
church, Pastor Bridges received $47.95. 



The Association Will Come 
To Order" 

"Onward, Christian Soldiers" 

Behold how good and how pleasant 
it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. 

Psalm 133: 1 

A wave of restlessness was beginning to go through the 
brethren of the Kings Mountain Association during the 
second day of its session in the year 1912 at Mt. Zion. The 
sun was sinking rapidly and the October days were short- 
ening. Many miles had to be traveled by some to get back 
to Shelby, Fallston, or even as far away as Lattimore or 

John Suttle had been nominated as moderator to suc- 
ceed the saintly A. C. Irvin, the white haired, blue eyed, 
lovable man who had been the moderator for ten years. 

Brother Abe was getting old. He knew it and the breth- 
ren knew it. He had been a fine moderator and a wonder- 
ful diplomat, but he had firmly refused re-election. 

There were a number of older ministers in the Associa- 
tion who could have succeeded him, but the delegates de- 
cided they wanted a younger man; a man with a future 
before him who could "get things done". They decided 


"The Association Will Come to Order" 119 

on John Suttle, and for the next 39 years, year in and 
year out, through thick and thin, through two world wars, 
in an era marked by surging growth, prosperity and ad- 
versity, John Suttle was re-elected moderator. He served 
continuously from the fall of 1912 and the Mt. Zion meet- 
ing, through the 1952 meeting which was held at Latti- 
more, Bethany, and Norman's Grove. 

His first session as the presiding officer was at Zion in 
1913 when the Reverend L. W. Swope preached the intro- 
ductory sermon and J. J. Lattimore was clerk. In the 
intervening years he also had as his clerk G. G. Page, a 
newspaper editor; J. V. DeVenny, a retired minister; J. W. 
Costner, a layman who became minister while he was 
clerk; and the Reverend Lawrence Roberts, a minister and 
the present clerk. 

As the presiding officer of a great Association, John fol- 
lowed in the footsteps of a number of illustrious ministers 
and laymen. Tom Dixon, Dove Pannel, G. W. Rollins, 
and L. M. Berry presided in the sessions before the Civil 
War. R. P. Logan, J. H. Yarborough, A. L. Stough, J. Y. 
Hamrick, H. F. Schenck, and E. Y. Webb had brought 
the Association into the 20th Century. Major Schenck 
had had the longest tenure of any moderator, having 
served thirteen years while Tom Dixon had served ten 
years, but not in succession. 

In 1912, the Association had 3 8 churches, only three of 
which had full time pastors. They reported 7,626 mem- 
bers with 300 baptisms for the year. There were approxi- 
mately 4,000 persons in Sunday School with 327 women 
enrolled in Mission Societies. 

Total gifts for the year were $25,777.66 of which 
$2,642.39 went to Missions and Benevolences. This was 
an annual per capita gift for all causes of the magnificent 
sum of $3.73. 

For the next forty years under Suttle's leadership, the 
Association was to advance in all directions. The number 
of churches grew to 62, of which thirty had full time pas- 

120 Canaan in Carolina 

tors. Membership in 1954 was over 20,000 and nearly a 
thousand new members were being baptized each year. 
Sunday Schools had enrolled 18,421 and Training Unions 
had 4,345. Women's Missionary Societies were found in 
nearly every church with a total of 3,941 members. There 
were 839 men who had joined Brotherhoods. 

Total gifts for local objects amounted to $643,921.27 
with an additional $133,774.84 going to Missions and 
Benevolences. This was a per capita gift to all causes of 
$3 3.22, more than a ten-fold increase. 

Being moderator of a growing, expanding Association 
was not easy. However, John Suttle almost made a liar 
out of the copy book whose dictum says, "You can fool 
some of the people all of the time, and you can fool other 
people part of the time, but you can't fool all of the people 
all of the time." 

He didn't have to fool the people. They knew him well 
and liked him well enough to re-elect him each time for 
forty years. In the first place, he was pastor of from five 
to seven churches most of that forty years, and with a 
nucleus of delegates from seven churches who liked their 
minister and wanted to see him continue leadership, it was 
not so strange that he continued to be re-elected. 

Again, the dispatch and diplomacy with which he pre- 
sided at an Associational meeting was something out of 
this world. He began on time and closed on time. He 
kept everybody happy, laughing part of the time and often 
shedding a few tears. 

"Brother Huggins, you have five minutes to speak to 
this Association," he would tell M. A. Huggins, General 
Secretary of the Baptist State Convention. Brother Hug- 
gins knew he had five minutes and only five minutes. If 
he went over his allotted time the gavel would sound and 
Brother John would ask the Association if it wished to 
vote more time for the speaker. Over the years speakers 
came to know that as a presiding officer, Brother Suttle 
did give them all the time allotted but not a minute more. 
The Association liked it. A great deal more business mat- 

"The Association Will Come to Order" 121 

ters were transacted. Long-winded speeches, sermons, or 
harangues never were permitted. 

"I consider the business matters of this Association just 
as important as any service in the Church," John would 
tell the delegates. "You people have your own churches 
and your own business to attend to at home. We will 
come here and tend to the Lord's business and then go 
home and tend to ours," he would say. 

During one of the last sessions of the Association he 
told the body, "It has been a real joy to have the oppor- 
tunity to serve this Association for forty years. I deeply 
appreciate this check for $201 you have given me as an 
expression of your love." 

The Reverend C. O. Greene, one of Suttle's preacher 
boys and one on whom he had laid his hands when he was 
ordained as a minister and as a deacon, had presented the 
check from the Association. 

The previous year Greene had presented Moderator 
Suttle with a gavel made from a piece of wood taken from 
one of the old logs in the home place of Elder Joseph 
Suttle, John's grandfather. Tearfully but joyfully, he had 
accepted the gift and later when the Reverend C. C. Crowe 
was elected to succeed him, passed the historic wood in- 
strument on to Brother Crowe. 

Many people have wondered how one man among so 
many able, intelligent, natural born leaders in a great As- 
sociation could continue to be elected moderator. One of 
his friends gave this explanation. "He had an ease of man- 
ner with which he could hold an audience and get things 
done. He could see all the problems ahead. He had a sense 
of humor. His personality sparkled. He won the office 
time after time by sheer force of personality and by con- 
tinuing to demonstrate his ability." 

For many years the only formal meeting the Associa- 
tion held was in the fall. For the past twenty years or 
more, however, there have been meetings both spring and 
fall to take care of the Association's business. Since 1933, 

122 Canaan in Carolina 

the Association has had a General Board with representa- 
tives from all of the churches meeting once a month to 
take care of interim problems and to keep up the larger 
program of the present 64 churches. John usually attends 
all of these meetings and keeps fully informed about the 
work being carried on. 

In a recent meeting of this general board at the First 
Baptist Church in Shelby he was asked to speak on the 
subject, "Advice to Young Preachers". His outline fol- 

1. Younger preachers do not face the hardships the 
older preachers faced. 

2. The younger preachers have better facilities for 
spreading the gospel and attending to local field 
ministerial duties than did their predecessors. 

3. The younger preachers are prepared better theo- 
logically than were the older preachers. 

4. The younger preachers will be expected to render 
a greater service both locally and in a more diver- 
sified manner than were the older preachers. 

5 . The younger preacher must continue to propound 
the doctrine of total Christian stewardship and 
to expand upon it whenever and wherever pos- 

6. The younger preachers will be rewarded accord- 
ing to their service to God. 

This entire dissertation was spiced with witty jokes, 
proverbial sayings, colloquial phrases, and the entire group 
laughed and grew serious alternately as they listened in- 
tently while this grand old man of God drew upon his 
many years of knowledge and experience. 

































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is ine way we 


Our Churches' 

"Give of Your Best to the Master' 

Be ye doers of the Word 
and not hearers only. 

James 1:22 

John Suttle has been a builder both of churches and 

He has built churches mainly through building good 
Sunday Schools and at the same time strengthening all 
other auxiliary organizations of the church; he has built 
communities by building a better church and by training 
and using the talent in native, natural born leaders. 

In all the 37 churches John has served, he has tried to 
take the church beyond the point of work and efficiency 
and spiritual development that it had when he arrived. In 
churches which needed new buildings, he was able to lead 
the membership in a building program, if he stayed as 
long as three or four years. 

Of the seventeen churches in the Shelby area and units 
of the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run Associations, at 
least fourteen congregations erected new houses of worship 
and Sunday School plants during his pastorate, or he had 


126 Canaan in Carolina 

led the congregation to approve plans that produced a new 
building soon after he resigned. Several of the churches, 
especially those at which he held long pastorates, built not 
once but two or even three times to care for growth and 

During the 29 year period of his ministry from 1916 
to 1945 inclusive, he was pastor of from five to seven 
churches, usually averaging six churches. During this pe- 
riod he preached three times every Sunday and had an 
appointment for each week night. These meetings would 
consist of prayer meetings, teachers' meetings, deacons' 
meetings, Woman's Missionary Society meetings, church 
suppers and various kinds of commemorative meetings 
such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. 

During those 29 years he had no vacation and only in 
the past five or six years has he given himself the luxury 
of a vacation. Funerals, weddings, family reunions and 
personal affairs had to be worked into this "impossible" 

During that period, Brother John baptized approxi- 
mately 5,000 people, registered around 24,000 miles per 
year on his automobile, made the necessary visits to the 
hospital and to the sick and shut-ins in the various com- 
munities. Ten churches were involved in this particular 
period of his ministry, being New Bethel, Lawndale, 
Double Shoals, Double Springs, Sandy Run, Waco, Pat- 
terson Grove, Beaver Dam, New Hope, and Zoar. With 
one exception, all of these churches built new sanctuaries 
and educational plants and all of them had Standard Sun- 
day Schools. They unquestionably took the lead in the 
Association in adding Training Unions, Missionary So- 
cieties, organized choirs and Brotherhoods to their list of 

Tabulation of statistics for Suttle churches in almost 
any period since 1916 will show that they have led the 
Association in tithing, baptisms, daily Vacation Bible 
Schools, growth in number of members, and in overall 
evangelism and stewardship. 


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128 Canaan in Carolina 

His churches alone in the Kings Mountain Association 
since 1908 have raised nearly $1,000,000 for all purposes; 
nearly $400,000 for Missions and Benevolences. 

An avid supporter of Christian Education, Suttle led 
his churches always to support Gardner- Webb College and 
all forms of Christian Education. 

He tried to lead his churches to become centers of their 
communities, not only in spiritual but in social and civic 

Suttle churches are New Testament churches; all co- 
operate with the denominational program. 

In this great problem of building churches in diverse 
communities, Suttle had a plan. It is very similar to the 
plan advocated by the Sunday School Board and the 
Southern Baptist Convention for the past forty years. In 
many instances, the Board and Convention have adopted 
Suttle ideas and plans. 

John usually tried to do five things. 

1. LOCATE THE PEOPLE. He led his church to take 
a census, check the church rolls, and put down a 
written record of where everybody within the ac- 
cepted boundary of the community lived. 

2. UNITS WERE ADDED. He challenged classes and 
departments to enlarge the organization, to organ- 
ize new classes and new departments. 

3. MORE SPACE PROVIDED. In some cases only 
curtains and screens were available. In other in- 
stances, buildings were remodeled, but most of the 
time he led the community to see that a new build- 
ing would be necessary to care for growth and 

4. WORKERS WERE TRAINED. In study courses, 
class meetings, deacons meetings, personal confer- 
ences, and by attending meetings at other churches 
or by reading books and magazines. 

5. VISITATION WAS MADE. Teachers and officers, 
deacons, and the pastor went into the homes over 
and over again until the people were enlisted in the 
regular services of the church. 

This master plan paid off. He then was able to put into 
effect the basic principles of the Standard of Excellence. 

The Reverend John 
Suttle, Reverend 
Easom of Shelby, 
and Reverend 
E. A/1. Smith of Dover 

Seated: J. D. S. Carpenter, New Bethel; Mr. Suttle; F. E. Green, 
Double Springs. Standing: W. N. Pope, Waco; J. W. Seism, Patter- 
sen Grove; F. A/i. McGinnis, Beaver Dam; Carl Spangler, Double 

"Tins Is the Way We Build Our Churches" 129 

There was no question in his mind or that of his members 
that the Sunday School was a part of the church. It was 
the Teaching Service of the church. 

The enrollment of the Sunday School, from toddling 
babies to palsied oldsters, included everybody. His schools 
were graded. Baptist literature was used throughout. Use 
of the Bible was emphasized. In a rural church it was the 
rule and not an exception that everybody stayed for the 
preaching service. 

"I remember one church where I was called that on the 
first Sunday just before I was to preach the superintendent 
announced that the congregation was dismissed. I asked 
why. He answered, T am dismissing the Sunday School 
so we can come back to the preaching service'. " Said 
Brother John, "From now on let's just merge the teaching 
service with the preaching service. It is all church. If we 
dismiss them now it is an open invitation to go home." 

Evangelism was stressed in every department of the 
Sunday School. Workers' meetings were held weekly and 
great groups of rural people who never had studied a book 
in their lives were awarded seals and diplomas by the hun- 
dreds. All denominational work was stressed as the occa- 
sion arose with special offering being made or a particular 
project being placed in the budget. 

John has been asked often what he thinks of the future 
of the rural church. 

"I think we have just begun. I believe we have overdone 
this idea of consolidation even in our public schools. We 
have just scratched the surface of what it is possible to do 
in a small community. They are not isolated any more. 
Our people are not backward, ignorant, superstitious, or 
different in kind from city dwellers." 

He has been asked what still remains the greatest need 
in building rural churches. 

"Leaders!" is a quick reply. "Leaders with a definite 
program. Young ministers who have been trained for 
leadership and trained to discover the qualities of leader- 
ship among their members." 

130 Canaan in Carolina 

Asked what he considered the key to his success in situa- 
tions where other pastors have failed with rural churches, 
John says, "If I have succeeded at all, it has been because 
I have tried to preach the Gospel and the whole Gospel. I 
have done my best to preach so that people can understand. 
I have stayed with my churches in season and out of sea- 
son, in prosperity and adversity. I have made an effort to 
train teachers, officers, and leaders and have encouraged 
them to be faithful and earnest. 

"I have never tried to force my people to adopt plans 
or programs. My policy has been to teach and instruct 
faithfully and when the opportune time came, to put the 
program before them. Usually they have adopted it. 
When you lead people to do a thing themselves, it is likely 
to succeed because they did it. They know about it then; 
they will have a deeper interest in it, and will work harder 
to MAKE it succeed. 

"I have tried to challenge my members for a life of 
service and have sought to make them understand the 
words of the Master when He said, 'He that would save 
his life shall lose it, but he that would lose his life for my 
sake and the Gospel's shall find it'." 

In building churches, one of John's secrets has been 
enthusiasm. He has shown personal interest and has stimu- 
lated interest in other people. He likes to tell an April 
fool story on himself. 

"A good many years ago I was walking across the court 
square on the first day of April. I noticed a group of 
little boys very eagerly and rapturously looking up into 
a tree. They were pointing and gesticulating with such 
enthusiasm that I let my curiosity get the best of me and 
walked over to ask them what it was all about. 

"They gleefully shouted 'April fool!' and said there 
was nothing in the tree at all, but their enthusiasm was 
attractive enough to accomplish their aim. I often say if 
Christians would be more enthusiastic about their religion, 
more people would be attracted to the Lord's work and 
that is no April fool." 

"This Is the Way We Build Our Churches" 131 

Two books stimulated Brother John's interest in rural 
work. One was by Dr. J. W. Jent, published in 1924. Dr. 
Jent, a native farm boy of southern Kentucky and reared 
in Missouri, wrote challengingly about the problems of 
rural churches in the South. He had the conviction that 
one of the firmest rooted churches in the world is the 
genuine 100 per cent democratic Baptist church in the 

Another book which Mr. Suttle has enjoyed very much 
is Forty Years A Country Preacher, by George B. Gilbert, 
published by Harper and Brothers of New York. Mr. Gil- 
bert was, about twenty years ago, chosen as the typical 
country minister of the United States. He, like Brother 
Suttle, buried himself deep in the country and worked 
all his life with rural people. The book was a homey, 
down-to-earth story of his life and the trials and tribula- 
tions which came to a Congregationalist minister in the 
horse and buggy days. 

Lest the reader be misled, John Suttle was not the only 
pastor who believed in or worked for the Sunday Schools. 
His churches were not the only churches which organized 
or developed these good schools. As a whole, he was only 
doing a better than average job in a program of Religious 
Education which had begun in the Kings Mountain Asso- 
ciation nearly a hundred years before. 

Before the Civil War, in October 1 8 5 6, a Sabbath School 
Committee composed of J. R. Logan, S. McBrayer, and 
J. A. Roberts urged the five-year-old Kings Mountain 
Association to adopt some plan for Sabbath Schools with 
the Bible as their textbook, that they might "Bring up 
your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." 
Little heed was taken of this report or other references 
to the need for Sunday Schools until the early 70's. About 
the time John Suttle was born in 1872, Kings Mountain 
had an Association-wide Sunday School Convention, and 
within ten years nearly every church reported some sort 
of Bible teaching, not only to the children but to all church 

132 Canaan in Carolina 

By the time John was ordained a minister in 1890, Sun- 
day Schools were "Evergreen", that is, open all the year 
instead of being "hibernating" or "Closed-for-the-winter- 
schools". Statistical records of these Sunday Schools be- 
came a part of the minutes of the Association. 

By the turn of the century, Southern Baptists had begun 
officially the Sunday School movement, and Dr. B. W. 
Spillman, "The Sunday School Man", a friend of John 
Suttle, was going all over the South explaining the possi- 
bilities of the new movement. By 1909 and 1910, after 
John Suttle had been to South Carolina, Stanly, Johnston, 
and Madison counties and had come back to Cleveland for 
the rest of his life, he had already observed in his own 
churches that: 

1. 90% of all baptisms are from the Sunday School. 

2. 75% of Mission gifts come through the Sunday School. 

3. A majority of the useful members in any church were 
those who had been in Sunday School fifteen to twenty 
years previously. 

With all of this background, by the end of World War I, 
he was prepared to challenge his churches with any con- 
structive program. He even made a success of his churches' 
part in the "75 Million Campaign", even though the total 
goals of the denomination were not reached and even 
though personal dishonesty and embezzlement of denomi- 
national funds were discovered later in high places. 

"The effort to do bigger things did us all good," he said. 

Suttle was interested in building more and more of 
everything, not only in his own churches, but in all the 
churches. When any occasion presented itself, he invited 
leaders from Raleigh, Nashville, the Seminaries, Mission 
fields, and Convention agencies to come to the Association. 
Not only to visit in his churches but to visit in all the 
churches or to hold conferences for leadership training. 
He was particularly interested in improving teaching. 

On one phase of community and church building, 
Brother John has changed his mind. In the early 20's he 
said, "I do not think all of these communities need a full 

"This Is the Way We Build Our Churches" 133 

time pastor. If I were a full time pastor I probably could 
do no more in one community than I am doing in five." 

Brother John has some definite ideas of what to do in 
retirement. After 65 years in the active ministry he says, 
"I want to spend the next 25 years going from one church 
to another in this section telling people how to treat their 
preacher. I'll tell them to be kind to him, cooperate with 
him, get a lot of work out of him, and together with him, 
do all the Lord's work that needs to be done in that com- 
munity." Then slyly he adds: 

"Part of that time I want to spend designing new church 
buildings. I believe I would design a sanctuary which, at 
the beginning of the service, would have only one empty 
pew, and it would be located in the back. As soon as the 
members came in and filled it up, it would automatically 
roll down to the front and another seat would take its 
place. Then, as soon as all the members were present, 
they would be down at the front where the pastor could 
see them. 

"A second feature of this church would be a pulpit 
which upon the stroke of 12:00 would automatically drop 
through the floor taking any long-winded preacher with 

Now in retirement, John believes all of the rural 
churches which he has served should look forward to the 
time when they will have full time pastors. Several al- 
ready have such pastors. Several factors have contributed 
to this change. Among them, increased size of member- 
ship, better transportation and communication, and more 
activities in which members of the church and their fami- 
lies can engage. 

In latter years, Mr. Suttle has been convinced that the 
church should play a greater role in supervising and in 
being the center of community recreation. "God made 
our physical bodies as well as our mental, emotional, and 
spiritual bodies, and they all need development. When I 
come to die and have my body carried into the church, I 

134 Canaan in Carolina 

don't want people to say, 'There lies an old fogey. Thank 
goodness he is gone!' " 

Brother Suttle was highly in favor of the development 
of community recreation centers at Double Springs and 
Beaver Dam and supported the idea of a community rec- 
reation center sponsored by Gardner-Webb College. He 
favored athletic scholarships, not in preference to scholar- 
ships for ministers, valedictorians, and musicians, but on 
an equal basis with these people. 

His methods and ideas of church building and com- 
munity improvement were contagious. For instance, one 
of his kinsmen and life-long friends, the late John R. 
Dover, father of the present textile leaders, Charles and 
Jack Dover, believed so firmly in John's kind of religion 
that everywhere he built a textile mill, he also built a 
church, at least four or five in number. "Cousin" Charles 
and Jack continue their father's interest in church-cen- 
tered community building. 

While reflecting upon this condition in which the 
churches now have more of everything, John sometimes 
tells the story about the circuit riding ministers in frontier 
Michigan. The story is not original with him but it illus- 
trates the point that one may get too much of anything. 

This trusty old evangelist of the saddle had ridden to 
the very outpost of his district and had discovered a fam- 
ily of twelve in destitute circumstances. Most of them 
were half starved, poorly clothed and in severe need of 
this world's goods. He dismounted from his horse and 
administered to their needs as well as he could from his 
meager supplies, then decided that the least he could do 
was to offer a prayer. "O Lord, if we ever needed you, we 
need you now. This family here is pitifully poor. Please 
send a barrel of pork and a barrel of grits, and a barrel of 
flour and a barrel of pepper. 

"O Lord, No! You know that's too much pepper!" 

A College Saved Is A College Made 

"Open Mine Eyes." 

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman 
that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the 
word oj truth. 

II Timothy 2: 15 

"Get up, Fred." 

Thus a young minister, dusty and tired from riding 
twelve hours in a buggy, spoke to his gray horse as he left 
Boiling Springs to drive the nine miles back to Shelby with 
the $2.75 he had been able to collect in a whole day for 
the new school. 

"I drove my horse and buggy all over Cleveland and 
Rutherford counties during the fall of 1909 trying to get 
a little money for the new building which had been au- 
thorized by the Kings Mountain and Sandy Run Asso- 

"Most of the gifts were nickels, dimes, and quarters 
with a few dollars and occasionally $10. Very rarely was 
there a promise of $100." 

John Suttle was not in the county when the Kings 
Mountain Association first showed interest in organizing 
a new school at the Zoar meeting in 1903. After the 


136 Canaan in Carolina 

leaders had studied the problem and had worried over 
ways and means for five years and had finally located the 
school at Boiling Springs, John accepted a pastorate in 
the county, and from that time forward loved the school. 

He has been identified more actively with its operation 
than any other man. He not only went after funds for 
the first building, but he has been active in every financial 
campaign for the high school and later for the Junior Col- 
lege. He has been on the Board of Trustees continuously 
since 1910 and was chairman of the Board during its great- 
est period of expansion in the early 40's. More than that, 
he kept it alive by keeping it open. 

On two occasions, motions were made in the Board of 
Trustees to close the school; first, in the dark depression 
days of 1932 when the college was a mere four years old, 
funds were short, food was scarce, teachers could not be 
paid, and the struggling little college was burdened with 
$20,000 indebtedness. Even then John Suttle was not dis- 
mayed. In an unusual all-night meeting of the Board of 
Trustees, Brother Suttle kept the question open for dis- 
cussion hour after hour when the motion had been made 
to close the school. Finally at 4:00 a.m., when Trustees' 
wives were frantically phoning for information as to the 
whereabouts of their husbands, the Board voted to keep 
the school open for another year. "I had a feeling the 
Lord had changed somebody's mind during those long dis- 
cussions and I felt it would be safe to call for the question." 
It was safe and the motion to close was defeated by one 

Again in 1936, the forces working for the closing of 
the school were not only poverty, lack of endowment and 
funds for operation, but the State Board of Education 

Through its spokesman, Dr. J. Henry Highsmith, the 
State Board of Education, in May 1936, sent a letter which 
was an ultimatum to the college to either become a stand- 
ard institution or close its doors. He listed the following 
five reasons: 













C ^ 

o £ 

o qr 

— D) 
< 0) 

Suttle and 
R. T. LeGrand, Sr., 
Textile Executive 

Suttle at Rotary 

with Frank Jordan, Dr. D. F. Moore, and Dr. P. L. Elliott. 

A College Saved Is a College Made 137 

1. No stable income. 

2. Inadequate library. 

3. Inadequate laboratories for science. 

4. Low salaries for teachers. 

At that time teachers were getting $36.00 a month 
plus room and board. 

5. Training for the faculty. The proposed faculty for the 
year 1936-37 showed only one person had a Master's 
degree with the exception of the President and a teacher 
of Bible. Neither of these were paid members of the 

Dr. Highsmith told the President and the Board of 
Trustees that unless these standards were met, the school 
would not be allowed to open in the fall. 

John Suttle was not chairman of the Board at that time 
but was vice-chairman. In the absence of Judge E. Y. 
Webb, who was holding Federal District Court, Mr. Suttle 
did most of the presiding at the Board meetings in that 
eventful year. 

It appeared at this time it would take at least $10,000 
to meet the minimum standards set up by the State Board 
of Education. So in the Board meeting that spring, John 
Suttle led members to contribute the sum of $4,400 of 
which sum he pledged his church at Double Springs to pay 
$500 and appointed other leaders in both the Kings Moun- 
tain and Sandy Run Associations to help raise the re- 
mainder. The money was raised and the college was saved. 

Before World War I in the days from 1908 to 1912, 
Suttle continuously preached for better public schools, 
better churches, improved means of doing things, and espe- 
cially for the high school which was training young min- 
isters at Boiling Springs. At this time there were only two 
other high schools in Cleveland County, and the establish- 
ment of the academy at Boiling Springs along with the 
high school made three. The other two were at Shelby and 
Kings Mountain. In 1913, Brother John became modera- 
tor of the Kings Mountain Association and these forty 
years were dedicated not only to good preaching and build- 
ing rural churches, but the upbuilding of Boiling Springs 

138 Canaan in Carolina 

School, which in 1928 became Boiling Springs Junior Col- 
lege and in 1942, became Gardner- Webb Junior College. 

In the late 20's, Baptist leaders began to see that their 
new school could not withstand competition from the 
State of North Carolina which had organized nearly a 
dozen high schools in Cleveland County and had consol- 
idated many of the smaller rural schools into these 
high schools. Their expenses were paid for by taxes. The 
number of students at Boiling Springs began to diminish 
in such proportion that it appeared the school would have 
to go out of business unless it was elevated to the ranks of 
a Junior College. The school got along fairly well until 
the beginning of the Great Depression. The early depres- 
sion years saw the college struggle along with an ever in- 
creasing load of debt reaching approximately $20,000 by 
1932. From the record it appears that John attended al- 
most every Board meeting. Occasionally there were spe- 
cial meetings, but the most dramatic story of his faith in 
helping to keep the college alive began in 1932. 

Dr. J. Blaine Davis had been the first president and 
lasted only a couple of years. He was succeeded by Dr. 
Zeno Wall who held the position more or less on a tem- 
porary basis, since he was pastor of the large First Baptist 
Church at Shelby. He resigned after two years and John 
Suttle was influential in getting the Reverend J. L. Jenkins, 
pastor of the Boiling Springs Baptist Church, to accept 
the presidency. 

Cotton was bringing five cents a pound. No one could 
sell farm products, and those who wanted such products 
had no money to buy them. Almost no one could afford 
to attend school and especially those who wanted to come 
to Boiling Springs could not pay. During the school year 
1932-3 3, the college entered into an unusual contract with 
the teachers. In effect, it signed an agreement with the 
teachers to run the college on the condition that teachers 
pay all the expenses for food, books, supplies, heat, water, 
and lights, and then accept for their own pay what was 
left from fees and gifts. 

A College Saved Is a College Made 139 

This contract was outlined by Mr. Walter L. Hicks who 
was secretary of the Board of Trustees at that time and 
was put into effect by a motion by John Suttle. It left 
practically nothing to the teachers, but it did keep the 
college alive during those depression years. Except for the 
fact that the teachers worked for nothing, the college 
could not have operated at that time. 

Even then, it could not have remained open except for 
a plan in which the Trustees borrowed money. A number 
of them endorsed the college's note for a loan at the First 
National Bank of Shelby. This note was called and came 
due on May 17, 1932. While Brother John did not have 
the money to pay his portion of the note, he went to his 
churches and got it. Interest on the note and some of the 
principal was paid. It was renewed for later payment. 

An unusual situation developed in the fall of 1932 when 
business was so bad and payments to the college so poor 
that a few former teachers residing in Charlotte, North 
Carolina, and who had not been paid, were threatening to 
enter suit against the college for collection of their back 
salaries. This threw the Board of Trustees into somewhat 
of a quandary since it could not pay them. The Board did 
not even have enough money to hire a lawyer to fight the 
suit. Dr. W. A. Ayers, at that time pastor of the First 
Baptist Church of Forest City, discussed with Brother 
John a novel plan to meet this crisis. 

It was suggested that if these teachers who needed back 
salary would get up a few students to come to the college 
and get them properly enrolled, that instead of the stu- 
dents paying the college they could pay the teachers who 
formerly had taught at Boiling Springs. In other words, 
if the students would pay a certain sum of money to the 
ex-teachers, they could come on to the college free and 
the new officers and the new set of teachers would accept 
the burden. The teachers were allowed to take credit for 
the sum of $112.50 per student for the years 1932-33 if 
they could collect from that student, and that would be 
called payment of their back salary. Then the college 

140 Canaan in Carolina 

would teach the student, take care of him, and all he 
would have to pay here at Boiling Springs would be room 
and board but not the tuition charges during that year. 

John Suttle saw in the beginning of the college that the 
authority for operating the enlarging school would have 
to be centrally located. In 1933, he gave the Board a 
motion that the President of the college be invested with 
the authority to see that the wishes of the Board were exe- 
cuted and to have power to organize all of the work per- 
taining to the college, including business management. 

He also saw the value of tieing the churches together 
in the interest of the college by getting students from 
these churches. In 1934, he made a motion that any church 
which gave as much as $100 per year to the current ex- 
pense of the college could select a student from the church 
who would receive a $50 scholarship. If the church gave 
$50, he would receive a $2 5 scholarship, and if $25, a 
$12.50 scholarship. 

Faith and morals were never neglected in those early 
days of the college, so in February of 1934, he was a mem- 
ber of the faculty committee which prepared an article 
of faith to be incorporated and appended to the teacher's 
contract as follows: 

Contract: To be subscribed to by all teachers who teach in 

Boiling Springs College. 
In consideration of my connection to the Boiling Springs 
College as a teacher I shall gladly subscribe to the follow- 

1. I am opposed to and will exert my influence against 
any and all forms of amusement that are detrimental 
to Christian influence and Christian living. 

2. I shall give my full support to all religious organiza- 
tions of the college and church. 

3. I shall seek to create, encourage, and promote a dis- 
tinctive Christian atmosphere in the college and on the 

4. I believe the Scriptures of the Old Testament to be 
divinely inspired in totality. 

5. I believe the New Testament alone as revealing Salva- 

A College Saved Is a College Made 141 

tion and as the final authority of all matters of church 
polity and practice. 

6. I believe Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testa- 
ment to be the Son of God and the Divine Saviour of 
all who truly accept Him as such. 

7. I believe in the personality of the Holy Spirit, in His 
quickening power with the Spirit of the unregenerate 
moving to repentance and acceptance of Jesus as Sa- 

8. Since Spiritual Redemption was made available by the 
death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus, I believe that 
every regenerate person should symbolize his own 
Salvation by being buried with Him in Baptism. 

9. I believe the whole Bible to be the Word of God, in- 
fallible in authority, regenerate in power, divine in 
authorship and inexpressible in value. 

During this year 1934, the Board voted to reimburse 
ministers and others who worked for the college to the 
extent of four cents a mile for travel. "I never collected 
a cent of this money for my travel," says John Suttle. 

In May 1934, Mr. and Mrs. M. G. Pangle had failed to 
be re-elected and also had not been paid. John Suttle saw 
their predicament and made a motion that the fine serv- 
ices of the Pangles be recognized by the college and that 
it do what it could to aid them in securing a position that 
would pay enough money for them to live. The college 
could not do it at that time. 

In the fall of 1934, the depression was still riding hard 
on the young college. Rains were beginning to force water 
through the roof into the classrooms and upon the stu- 
dents' beds. Brother John asked the Board for permission 
to go to the Association to ask that the churches furnish 
enough money to repair the roof of the building. He pre- 
sented the matter to the Kings Mountain Association and 
the Reverend J. A. Hunnicutt of Cliffside presented it to 
the Sandy Run Association. The money was brought in. 
In March, 1935, John Suttle was still convinced that the 
program had to be carried to the laymen. He asked the 
Board to present the indebtedness of the college to an 

142 Canaan in Carolina 

annual laymen's banquet and ask each Association to plan 
to get the debts paid by the end of the year. 

The Reverend J. L. Jenkins resigned as President in the 
early spring of 193 5 and there was no immediate possibil- 
ity of finding a successor. By the influence of John Suttle, 
Mr. Jenkins served on through the spring, and then in May, 
moved that the college elect Professor A. C. Lovelace, after 
a series of conferences had been held with him and he was 
found to be willing to take the Presidency. 

In January 1936, Brother John made the motion, sec- 
onded by C. T. Plybon, that the finance committee pro- 
ceed and be instructed and authorized to complete the 
arrangement for securing a loan of $12,000 for liquidat- 
ing all the old and past indebtedness of the college on a 
compromise basis. One of his suggestions to increase en- 
dowment at that time was to ask members of the Board 
of Trustees and other friends of the college to take out 
insurance policies to the extent of $1,000 each, making 
over to the college the proceeds of these policies in the 
event of their death. "I did not ask any of them to die," 
he chuckled. 

On May 7, 1936, he presided over the meeting at the 
First Baptist Church in Shelby to consider the letter from 
the State Board of Education which had been sent by Dr. 
Highsmith under the direction of Clyde A. Erwin, State 
Superintendent of Public Instruction; and James E. Hill- 
man, director of the Division of Professional Service. A 
committee, composed of Attorney B. T. Falls, G. V. Haw- 
kins, J. U. Rollins, Mrs. Rush Stroup, A. C. Lovelace, and 
J. A. Hunnicutt, was appointed to consider the matter 
and to report at the annual meeting at Boiling Springs 
College on May 20. 

The Board met on May 1 8 instead of waiting until May 
20, and the committee unanimously agreed that the college 
could not open in the coming fall unless certain conditions 
were met. They would have to raise at least $6,000 in 
cash and in addition, they would have to raise the stand- 
ards of the laboratory, library, teachers' salaries, and all of 

A College Saved Is a College Made 143 

the other detail items mentioned in the State Board of 
Education report. At that time pastors of the leading 
churches, members of the Board, and other friends sub- 
scribed a total of $4,400 of which John Suttle's church at 
Double Springs offered to pay $500 toward the liquidation 
of the indebtedness and to begin the new standardization 
and equipment program. 

In June 1936, J. H. Quinn resigned after a long tenure 
as chairman of the Board. Judge E. Y. Webb of Shelby 
was elected to succeed him but in the next half dozen years, 
John Suttle did most of the presiding since Judge Webb 
was away holding court sessions most of the time. 

On June 3, 1936, President Lovelace, the Reverend J. L. 
Jenkins, the Reverend Rush Padgett, E. B. Hamrick, and 
John Suttle went to Raleigh to talk to Mr. Highsmith 
about how to keep the school open. They came to an 
agreement which essentially contained these proposals. 

1. That an income of $10,000 annually be guaranteed either 
by the Kings Mountain or Sandy Run Associations, or 

2. That five teachers with Master's degrees be employed 
to head the departments of English, Mathematics, Sci- 
ence, Social Studies and Foreign Languages. 

3. That salaries of the teachers be equal to those paid to 
Class A teachers in high schools according to state sal- 
ary schedules, plus 25%. This would be a total of 
$1,215 per year on the basis of nine months plus the 

4. That the laboratory equipment up to the value not 
less than $2,000 be provided for each subject in science 

5. That a full time librarian be employed. 

It was left mainly to John Suttle, the moderator of the 
Kings Mountain Association and a member of the Board, 
to see that this $10,000 was raised. It was raised the first 
year and each subsequent year until the college was admit- 
ted to the Baptist State Convention Family of Colleges. 

The simple statement in the minutes of the May meet- 
ing of the Board of Trustees that B. T. Falls made a motion 
for the school to suspend operations and which was sec- 

144 Canaan in Carolina 

onded by S. H. Austell, is certainly not indicative of the 
tension and the feeling in the Board of Trustees and among 
friends of the college at that time. The school had man- 
aged to survive for almost thirty years and a great number 
of friends felt that it must not die at this time. 

Just as the vote was about to be taken, the dietitian, 
Mrs. Lillian Ritch, called the Board to dinner. They went 
downstairs and dined sumptuously upon cabbage, corn 
bread and buttermilk and after coming back to the meet- 
ing in the afternoon, found they felt much better toward 
Christian education, and the motion to close the school 
was defeated. 

John Suttle has not believed in subsidizing athletics or 
in encouraging the professional athlete to come to college. 
However, as early as 1936, he did support a movement in 
which athletes who were also good students would receive 
as much as $25 per year credit on a scholarship if he could 
play one sport well. If he could play two or more sports 
he would receive a credit of $50 per year. This motion was 
approved by the entire Board. 

"I believe in encouraging young men to build strong 
healthy bodies and to do their best whether they are in 
school, in business, or wherever they are. It is just as im- 
portant for the college to be fair in dealing with young 
men and young women in matters of improving their 
bodies as well as their minds." 

On May 18, 1937, John Suttle offered to the Board a 
proposition that he and Mrs. Suttle would give each year 
a medal to the student showing the best understanding 
and the greatest advancement in the study of the Bible. 
A lad named Fred Graham Piercy was awarded the medal 
the first year. Since that year, they have given this gold 
medal to the best Bible student and Mr. Suttle has been 
present on each occasion to personally present the medal 
to the student. 

Walter L. Hicks, who was secretary to the Board of 
Trustees during the dark decade from '32 to '42 said this 

Suttle and Huggins 

Brother John with M. A. 
Huggins, veteran General 
Secretary of the North Caro- 
lina Baptist State Conven- 

Suttle at First Church, Shelby 

Brother John talks with city preachers, Dr. Zeno Wall, Reverend Harlan Harris, 
and Roland Leath. 

A College Saved Is a College Made 145 

about Brother John, "He would never agree that the col- 
lege should be closed and was always optimistic about its 
future. He emphatically stated that it should not die, that 
it was doing a good job for this day and time and espe- 
cially for the amount of financial support it was receiving. 

"He kept the meetings enlivened by his pep and wit, 
and his deadly serious earnestness. Also, when he was pre- 
siding, he kept it moving and kept the issues at stake in 
the minds of the members of the Board. He would not 
let little personal differences of opinion or differences of 
approach to the problem interfere with the real job of run- 
ning the college." 

One of the ways he kept the college open was a constant 
attention to the matter of keeping favorable people on the 
Board of Trustees. Among these people, many of whom 
were from his own churches, and whose influence he knew 
he could depend upon, were Mrs. John Wacaster of Waco; 
J. C. Washburn of Double Springs; G. V. Hawkins of 
South Shelby; J. U. Rollins of Sandy Run; A. V. Wash- 
burn of Double Springs; J. W. Costner of Double Shoals; 
S. H. Austell of New Hope; and others. 

During this trying period the college changed presidents 
six different times. Each time a new man was drafted or 
persuaded to take the presidency John Suttle had no little 
influence in trying to get the right man and getting him 
to work for little salary, or nothing, so to speak, in order 
that the school might be kept going. These presidents were 
Dr. Zeno Wall, the Reverend J. L. Jenkins, Professor A. C. 
Lovelace, Dr. George J. Burnett, the Reverend J. L. Jen- 
kins again, and the Reverend J. R. Cantrell. 

"Cousin John, you have been to me like the shelter of 
a big rock in a weary land," O. Max Gardner said to the 
wiry little preacher one day in 1944. 

John's cousin who was speaking to him on that Septem- 
ber day was none other than the Honorable O. Max Gard- 
ner, former Governor of North Carolina, friend and ad- 
visor of President Roosevelt, financial genius, millionaire 
and by far the most astute political leader, statesman, dip- 

146 Canaan in Carolina 

loniat, Baptist layman, the state has produced in at least 
half a century. 

The miracle had happened! Governor Gardner had be- 
come interested in Boiling Springs College. He had become 
interested in Christian education. He had dedicated him- 
self to the task of making a first rate institution of the 
3 5 year old school. With his money, influence, and mag- 
nificent personality he had succeeded in enlisting the sup- 
port of hundreds of friends, and in exchange for this sup- 
port, the trustees, in 1942, had changed the name from 
Boiling Springs College to Gardner- Webb Junior College, 

The Webb part of the name stood for the maiden name 
of his wife, Faye Webb Gardner, and other illustrious 
members of this pioneer family of Cleveland and Ruther- 
ford counties. These included two outstanding Baptist 
ministers and leaders and two very prominent jurists. 
Judge James L. Webb for many years was Dean of the 
Bench of North Carolina Superior Court, and Judge E. Y. 
Webb was head of the Western Federal District Court. 

No one will ever know exactly what caused Governor 
Gardner to become interested in the school. It probably 
was a combination of factors. He was a native of Cleve- 
land County and his parents were natives of Rutherford 
County. His father was a leading country doctor. He 
was a first cousin to John Suttle and was closely related 
to the leading family of both counties, the Blantons, 
Suttles, Wrays, Hamricks, Greens, and others. 

For many years, Max had been a teacher of a large Men's 
Bible Class at the First Baptist Church in Shelby. He had 
always been a deeply religious and dedicated individual, 
but of late years his activities in politics and state affairs 
had taken him away from his home county. Through the 
efforts and prayers of John Suttle, A. W. McMurry, Dr. 
Zeno Wall, Mrs. Rush Stroup, Horace Easom, and a num- 
ber of other friends of the college, the problems of the 
Baptist school finally had been laid on his heart, so that 

A College Saved Is a College Made 147 

in 1942 he publicly announced his support and intention 
to go "all the way". 

From then on things began to hum. The college was 
reorganized, the charter rewritten, and steps were laid not 
only to build a good school but to provide adequate endow- 
ment and to make Gardner-Webb a member of the Baptist 
Family of Colleges recognized and supported by the Bap- 
tist State Convention. 

Suffice to say that all of this and more was done. By 
the time Mr. Gardner died in 1948, the endowment had 
grown to $260,000; there were increased funds for scholar- 
ships and other grants to students, the value of the college 
plant had been increased over $1,000,000 and prospects 
were bright for continued expansion. At the time of his 
death, Mr. Gardner had been appointed Ambassador to 
the Court of St. James, but had given the college assur- 
ance that he would continue to lend his support and influ- 
ence toward making it first among Junior Colleges of the 

O. Max had been influential in bringing to the campus 
Dr. Phil L. Elliott, a native of the mountains of Western 
North Carolina, with wide experience in administration 
and teaching and who, in 1942, was with the English 
Department in Western Carolina Teacher's College at 
Cullowhee. Dr. Elliott and John Suttle soon became 
friends and have helped each other mutually to improve 
rural churches and to teach college students from rural 

Max Gardner's organizing genius had already performed 
two miracles in North Carolina. He was governor of the 
state from 1928 to 1932 and was called upon during the 
first year of the great depression to save the credit of the 
state and then to save the state. By a series of brilliant 
maneuvers he was able to rearrange the bond structure 
and indebtedness of the state in such a manner as not to 
default or lose credit with New York banks. Also, his 
"Live at Home Program" among the 75 per cent rural 
areas of North Carolina enabled the people to weather the 

148 Canaan in Carolina 

depression by having enough food to live on whether or 
not they had money to buy. 

His second great contribution as governor was the re- 
organization of the State University, North Carolina State 
College and Woman's College into a "Greater University". 
After his term as governor, he had gone to Washington 
to practice law where he was counsel for some of the great- 
est firms in the United States including textiles, aviation, 
movies, railways, and heavy industrials. 

John and Max were both alike and different. In many 
respects they complemented each other. John was short, 
thin, wiry, and full of dry wit. Cousin Max was big, tall, 
exceedingly handsome, and dynamic, with a commanding 
personality. Both were born leaders, both went to the top 
in their professions. They had high mutual admiration 
for each other. 

One day John and Max were talking. John said, "Max, 
how did you ever figure out how you were going to be 
governor?" Max replied, "Well, you know the machine 
beat me in 1920 when I was running against Cameron 
Morrison. I decided right then and there that if I couldn't 
lick them I would join them." So he did join the machine 
and by 1928 was so much a leader in North Carolina 
Democratic politics that for the next twenty years from 
that time he was "The Machine". 

"I have sometimes thought of my race for governor 
being like the man who was out bear hunting. The bear 
got after him and he ran and ran and thought sure the 
bear was going to catch him. He could almost feel the 
hot breath of the beast blowing on the back of his neck. 

"Suddenly he ran out of the woods into an open field. 
In the middle of the field was a big tree, and he thought 
to himself if he could just get to that tree and climb it, he 
would be safe from the bear. When he got to the tree he 
found the first limb was forty feet from the ground and 
the tree was too big to climb. 

"However, the case was urgent so he stooped down and 
jumped. When one of his friends asked him if he made it, 

A College Saved Is a College Made 149 

he replied, 'Well, no, I didn't catch the limb going up but 
I was able to catch it coming down'." 

Max used to tell this story to illustrate how he missed 
being governor in 1920 but got it in 1928 and stated that 
any young man who set a goal for himself could do the 
same if he planned well enough and worked hard enough. 

John Suttle's contribution in leadership to the campaign 
for new funds, after the college was reorganized in 1942, 
is reflected in some correspondence a little later to A. W. 
McMurry, chairman of the Board of Trustees of Gardner- 
Webb, in which he said, "There are three reasons why 
people should be asked to buy war bonds and make them 
payable to Gardner- Webb College: 

1. To build a standard Junior College, a college 
which would care for and train many people 
including veterans after the war. 

2. Givers would be entitled to a tax deduction for 
such a gift to a charitable institution. 

3. Gifts of such bonds would result in dividends 
for students in this section for all times." 

He urged that all people, rich and poor, children and 
adults alike, have an opportunity to give and make an 
investment for the future. 

Again in the campaign of 1949, in a new drive to raise 
$85,000, Brother Suttle said, "This campaign is one more 
of the many steps already completed and to be completed 
in the rise of Gardner-Webb College as one of North Caro- 
lina's effective Junior Colleges. Without facilities the col- 
lege cannot serve the boys and girls who need it. The ideal 
part of any college consists of its service; the practical 
part consists of facilities with which to serve. In my judg- 
ment this latest campaign for the liquidation of a dormi- 
tory debt means for Gardner-Webb the practical facilities 
for ideal service." 

As late as May 1957 he took part in the graduation 
service of students at Gardner-Webb College, and it was 

150 Canaan in Carolina 

announced he had attended every graduation service since 
the very first one, which totaled 50 in all. 

A section of the girls' dormitory built shortly after the 
war proudly bears the name of John W. Suttle. The six 
churches he was serving at that time, Double Shoals, New 
Bethel, Patterson Grove, Double Springs, Lawndale, and 
Beaver Dam, together with his family and friends raised 
$20,000 to give his name to this new dormitory. A group 
of some 25 college girls now occupy this particular section. 

The sum of approximately $6,000 was donated by Mr. 
and Mrs. Lester O. Hamrick of Lattimore to help in the 
landscaping and beautification of the campus surrounding 
the new dormitory and other buildings. Approximately 
$500 from the estate of another former member, Mr. Matt 
London of the New Bethel Church, came in to complete 
the $20,000 necessary to erect the dormitory. 

Just the privilege of giving a medal to the better Bible 
student is enough for the Suttles, but expressions like the 
following from William C. Bearden who won the prize in 
1950 makes him feel better. "I would like to express my 
deep appreciation to you for the Bible medal awarded me 
at Gardner-Webb College last week. It certainly is a beau- 
tiful medal and words are inadequate to express my grati- 
tude for it. It certainly was a surprise for me to get it. 
I have been studying at Gardner- Webb two years and 
enjoyed every moment of it. In fact, I didn't think it 
possible for me to love a school as I do that great college. 
We owe much to you and all the others who fought to 
keep that school alive and make it what it is today. I do 
not hesitate to say that it is the best school we have in the 
state and I love them all. 

"Many thanks again for the medal. I shall always be 
proud of it and remember you good people. We desire 
your prayers for us as we continue in our work here for 
the Lord." 

Mention the Peabody Report to John Suttle and the 
gray hair almost turns to red again, and he gets the old 
time flash of fire in his eyes. "It may be that the Peabody 

A College Saved Is a College Made 151 

Report coming when it did and the way it did provided 
the necessary stimulus to rally our people to keep the school 
open at that time." 

What happened was that sometime between 1936 and 
1940, while the college was being studied very severely by 
the North Carolina Department of Education — especially 
by Dr. J. Henry Highsmith — a group of educators from 
Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, was invited to 
come to Boiling Springs and make a study of this small 

The conclusion of this group of educators was that the 
college should be closed because: 

1. It was too small. 

2. It was improperly located. 

3. It did not have the natural resources to be con- 

4. Its friends and supporters were not supporting it in 
the manner they ought to. 

"Time has proved that the Peabody reporters did not 
know what they were talking about," says Brother Suttle. 
"Perhaps they did and they were certainly right at the 
time, but it made us think about what we needed to do 
and we got busy and kept it alive and kept it going." 

The Reverend J. L. Jenkins spoke to the Baptist State 
Convention that same year about the plight of the college. 
He expressed the situation very aptly before the conven- 
tion, and his remarks prompted one of the friends of 
Chowan Junior College to make an equally impassioned 
speech for that school. They were trying to persuade the 
convention not to close Gardner-Webb, and at the same 
time, to rally around and reopen Chowan. 

Said Mr. Jenkins, "This is the first time in the history 
of Christian Education that an attempted abortion resulted 
in the birth of twins." 

"Bubbles" is the name of the college annual. In 1941, 
this annual was dedicated to John Suttle. Robert Brooks 
of Mooresboro, who is now on the editorial staff for the 
Raleigh "News and Observer", was editor at the time. 
State Senator, Robert Morgan of Shelby, was Business 

152 Canaan in Carolina 

Manager. The dedicatory note reads, "For more than fifty 
years the Reverend John W. Suttle has held the high place 
in the hearts of Christians throughout North Carolina. 
His tireless efforts as a pastor, his loyal devotion and ines- 
timable service to Christian Education and his Christ-like 
life among his fellow men will cause his name to be highly 
revered long after this small tribute has been forgotten." 

In all his churches, Brother John always told his mem- 
bers that the time to give flowers to people is while they 
are living. "If you love your mother, tell her so today. 
Give her a rose; give her a hug and kiss or tell your father 
you admire him. After they are gone it will be too late." 

In like manner, the hundreds and thousands of friends 
and admirers in the two Associations where he has labored 
these 65 years have attempted to set up a fitting memorial 
for John Suttle in the Suttle Memorial Endowment for 
Gardner-Webb College. This endowment fund is ulti- 
mately expected to reach the sum of $100,000. 

Funds from this endowment will be used for the support 
of the Gardner-Webb College Church Community Devel- 
opment Department, now being ably led by the Reverend 
W. Lawson Allen. 

How fitting for a man who has always worked with 
rural churches in small communities, with compact groups, 
to have for a memorial a department in the college which 
he helped found; a college which has for its supreme goal 
the improvement and development of those same com- 
munities, to fulfill their destiny in a new century, in a new 
day, and in a new way. 

This department is carrying Christian Education to these 
communities, seeking to develop around the church as a 
center a wholesome community in which the total needs 
of all the people are met, in a self-satisfying program 
of church activities, Sunday School, Training Union, 
Woman's Missionary Society, Boy Scouts, the various 
clubs, and, of course, the weekly worship services. What 
a glorious tribute to this "good man of religion — a parson 
in the country". 


A Baptist Asbury Reaches The Top 

"Where He Leads Me I Will Follow" 

Lovest thou me? Then feed my flock. 
John 21: 15 

A revolution was in the making in the ranks of rural 
ministers and delegates to the State Convention which was 
meeting in Winston-Salem in 1947. They wanted a leader, 
they needed a spokesman; one of their very own. For more 
than fifty years, the convention had met every year and 
had elected a city preacher or city layman to head the 
convention. It was time for a change! 

John W. Suttle — of Shelby, North Carolina, age 75 — 
pastor of five rural churches at that time, was the man. 
He was nominated and elected to the office over three city 
preachers. Incidentally, these were three of his good 
friends: Dr. F. O. Mixon of Raleigh, the Reverend Julian 
S. Hopkins of High Point, and Dr. Ralph Herring of 

John was prepared for the job. He has been a leader of 
Baptists all of his long life and productive ministry. Twice 
he had been vice-president of the Convention and had 


154 Canaan in Carolina 

been a member of the General Board for more than twenty 
years. At various times he had been a member of high 
placed committees and boards appointed to do important 
convention work. In addition, he had attended every meet- 
ing of the State Convention since 1890 with the exception 
of four, two of which he was away at the seminary. 

Even the oldest convention goers could not remember 
when a pastor from the country, a minister of rural 
churches, had been elected president of the convention. 
Fifty to 75 years ago nearly all of the preachers in North 
Carolina were in towns small enough for pastors to be 
called "country preachers". 

Some unrest had been developing for a number of years 
among the pastors and representatives to the convention 
from the rural areas. Of the nearly three thousand 
churches, over two thousand of them were in the rural 
areas and pastored by men who lived in the country. "We 
expect the convention to meet in the cities and we expect 
the city ministers to be the best leaders and to be elected 
most of the time, but it does not follow that they must 
elect a president and all of the officers all of the time. We 
need a spokesman," said one of the prominent rural min- 

John was the logical choice since he had been hailed time 
and time again as "dean of rural ministers of the South" 
in a number of magazines and articles from the Sunday 
School Board, from the Daily Press, and from other pub- 
lications. At the time of his nomination he had already 
served 57 years in rural churches and was head and shoul- 
ders above any other candidate from the country consid- 
ering age, experience, and ability. Unknown to Brother 
John, a number of caucuses had been held by a great num- 
ber of interested groups all over the state and in the words 
of one of the young pastors, "We were ready for them city 

After the first vote was taken and Suttle was so far 
ahead of the other candidates their nominators withdrew 
their names and asked that the vote be unanimous for 

A Baptist Asbury Reaches the Top 155 

Suttle. He succeeded Dr. C. C. Warren of Charlotte and 
was succeeded by Dr. F. O. Mixon of Raleigh who was 
also elected his vice-president that year. Other vice-presi- 
dents were the Reverend M. L. Bannister of Oxford and 
the Reverend W. C. Reed of Kinston. Charles B. Deane, 
veteran secretary and congressman, was elected to con- 
tinue in office as recording secretary. 

On the same day Suttle became president of the con- 
vention, Horace Easom of Shelby was elected to become 
director of the Convention's fund to remove Wake Forest 
to Winston-Salem. This great task was to consist of raising 
approximately $6,000,000 of which $1,500,000 was to be 
raised by the churches. Mr. Easom continued in this job 
until the $1,500,000 from the churches was in sight. 

Floods of letters, telegrams, and messages of congratula- 
tion came to Mr. Suttle while still at Winston-Salem and 
later when he had returned home. O. Max Gardner, a 
cousin and life-long friend and admirer of Brother Suttle, 
who then was in Washington preparing to go as Ambassa- 
dor to Great Britain, gave a note to the Associated Press 
saying of him: "He has never been a big pastor nor held 
a big pastorate. He has always preferred to serve the 
smaller groups, the smaller people and to give them a part 
of that faith, that religion, and that devotion to hard work 
and integrity which has made for him so rich a life." 

With spritely step and his usual smile and good cheer, 
he mounted the rostrum in 1948 at Charlotte and ad- 
dressed the Convention hall of 2,000 pastors and delegates. 
He said something like this, "When I was elected president 
of this body over at Winston-Salem, I overheard someone 
make the unfortunate remark that I was a little too old 
and too near the retiring age to serve as active president 
of a busy Baptist State Convention. 

"Let me tell you what I told him. I said, 'Young man, 
I hold five prayer meetings a week and visit a hundred 
patients in the hospital every day. I preach three sermons 
every Sunday and go to some sort of church meeting every 
night in the week. If a man who can do that is too old 

156 Canaan in Carolina 

then you can take my place'. " The Convention took his 
remarks in stride and extended sympathy, adulation, and 
praise to the veteran minister. From then on throughout 
the rest of the Convention, he had no difficulty in getting 
their complete attention. 

His election in Winston-Salem in 1947 followed his de- 
livery of a sermon on the general theme, "Christ is the 
Answer". Brother John does not have a copy of that ser- 
mon but he does remember that his text was from Psalms, 
"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills" and proceeded on 
the theme that if we have a high goal, a high position in 
life, a high sense of duty, that from this vantage point we 
can ourselves see the world; see Satan and how to fight 
him, and see our opportunities and our responsibilities. 
"We lift the people to the Word of God and the way to 
lift them is through prayer and hard work," he said. 

Following his election he got numerous calls to visit in 
nearby cities and also in Virginia and South Carolina. That 
year he preached at Wake Forest College, the Catawba 
River Association near Louisburg, to the State General 
Association in Roanoke, Virginia, the South Carolina State 
Baptist Convention at Columbia, and at Ridgecrest, North 
Carolina. He was invited to the South Carolina meeting 
by one of his old friends, Dr. R. C. Campbell, a native of 
this section and at that time vice-president of the Southern 
Baptist Convention. 

He told the South Carolina ministers his famous "pep- 
per" story. It seems that a very prominent old minister 
from the country who was quite eccentric carried a bottle 
of pickled peppers with him everywhere he went. One 
day he went to town and was having his lunch in a res- 
taurant when a traveling salesman came in and sat down. 
He looked around, saw the peppers, picked them up and 
put a little of the sauce on his meat and started to eat one 
of the peppers. 

The pepper was so hot a conversation was started. "You 

A Baptist Asbury Reaches the Top 157 

mean to say you are a preacher and that you carry these 
peppers around with you?" he asked. 

"Yes," was the reply. 

"Do you by any chance ever preach on hell's fire?" 
asked the salesman. 

"Occasionally. Why do you ask?" came from the min- 

"Well, I just want to tell you. You are the first preacher 
I ever saw who carries his samples with him." 

As an ambassador from rural churches in 1947 to 1949, 
Brother Suttle told most of these gatherings that the real 
secret of succeeding in rural work lies in training leaders 
and in giving the people a real opportunity for service. 
"Many country preachers have more fun than you city 
preachers. Many a time I go into a city church and see 
why a man who was reared in the country is very unhappy. 
He is laboring under the problems of a city, under his own 
problems, and under the church problems. God have 
mercy on my poor city brother!" 

"The program of the church ought to be the same in 
the country as in the city. The main problem is to teach 
the people, enlist them, enroll them, and if they are lost, 
to win them. Country churches have to erect buildings, 
install heating plants, care for the buildings and grounds, 
organize Sunday Schools, Training Unions, Missionary So- 
cieties, and Brotherhoods; they must enlist the talent of 
the church in the choir just as they do in the city church. 

"The once-a-month preaching is gone forever. The day 
of the buggy-driving, overnight, often-visiting country 
peacher is also gone forever." 

During his term of office John received excellent co- 
operation from all of the ministers and leaders of Baptists 
in North Carolina. Dr. Mixon served faithfully as First 
Vice-president and the following year was elected Presi- 
dent to succeed John. General Secretary Huggins invited 
him to attend all of the meetings of the Executive Com- 
mittee and offered to furnish secretarial help which, of 

158 Canaan in Carolina 

course, Brother John needed for all the correspondence. 
In all these years as a rural pastor, he never had a secretary. 

"I did have a little typewriter which I had used myself 
for nearly fifty years but, of course, it did not take the 
place of a secretary. Dr. Warren of Charlotte had his own 
secretary and did not need the Convention to furnish one." 

Quick to applaud the election of their leader to the high- 
est office in the convention, the general board of the Kings 
Mountain Association wrote a resolution in the first meet- 
ing after the election. After a general statement they re- 
solved the following: 

1. That we express our hearty concurrence and appre- 
ciation of the action of the convention in electing 
Brother Suttle. 

2. That we show our moderator our continued love and 
cooperation, and our willingness to help him bear his 
heavy responsibility. 

3. That a copy of these resolutions be spread upon our 
record here, a copy be given to the local paper, and a 
copy to be sent to the Biblical Recorder and a final 
copy given to Brother Suttle. 

The convention could not have picked a more natural 
born leader than John Suttle. He has attended nearly half 
of the sessions held by that body since it was organized in 
1830. He knew leaders from nearly every Association. 
He was personally acquainted with most of the old timers 
who had been going to the convention for many, many 
years. He knew the problems of both city and rural 
churches. His personal friends had been convention lead- 
ers for more than two generations. Among them was John 
A. Oates of Fayetteville, a leader and scholar and very 
intelligent person who wrote the book, North Carolina 
Baptists. When he attended the Convention he dressed 
like Lord Chesterfield. 

Another prominent Baptist Mr. Suttle used to see at 
conventions was Needham B. Broughton. He was the 
uncle of the late Governor Broughton and was a leading 
educator in Raleigh. One of the largest schools in the cap- 
ital city was named for him. 

A Baptist Asbury Reaches the Top 159 

Dr. B. W. Spillman of Kinston was known over the 
South as "The Sunday School Man" and used to visit Mr. 
Suttle at Smithfield. He was the biggest and fattest Baptist 
in the South and by the aid of his exceptionally good humor 
once wrote a book entitled, Laugh and Grotv Fat. Dr. 
Spillman was very fond of practical jokes and once wired 
the railroad to hold the train for thirty minutes "for a 
large party". The conductor was quite mad when Dr. 
Spillman arrived and as he boarded the train puffing, said, 
"I am quite a large party, don't you think?" 

In the early days John was acquainted with O. L. String- 
field, one of the founders of Meredith College and a great 
worker for Christian Education in North Carolina. 

Dr. John E. White of Clayton was at one time Corre- 
sponding Secretary of the Southern Baptist Convention 
and a close friend to Suttle while he was in Johnston 
County. There were two prominent Johnstons from Robe- 
son County: Livingston, who became secretary of the 
Baptist State Convention; and Archibald who, for many 
years, was editor of "Charity and Children", a paper pub- 
lished at the Baptist Orphanage. Others included Walt N. 
Johnson, secretary of the Convention; Dr. Columbus 
Durham, a native of Cleveland County and also a secre- 
tary; Dr. J. H. Mills, founder of the Orphanage; Dr. 
Charles E. Maddry, general secretary of the Board. 

One of John's close friends, who at one time was presi- 
dent of the Convention, was Dr. R. H. Marsh of Lexing- 
ton. "He was a very large, portly and dignified man and 
one of the best presiders the convention ever had," says 

From time to time John had known other prominent 
Baptists in this state. Among them were W. N. Jones, 
J. B. Carlisle, W. C. Dowd, I. M. Mercer, J. Clyde Turner, 
Dr. W. L. Poteat, Honorable R. N. Sims, Dr. Forrest 
C. Feezor, Dr. I. G. Greer, Dr. Ralph A. Herring, Dr. 
C. C. Warren, and Dr. F. O. Mixon. Many of these pre- 
ceded him as president of the convention. 

Mr. Suttle has a high regard for the Southern Baptist 

160 Canaan in Carolina 

Convention and also for the Sunday School Board. For 
many years he has known and corresponded with a great 
number of the leaders in many of the states in the Southern 
Baptist Convention. Not too long ago he had the priv- 
ilege to attend a meeting of the Sunday School Board and 
was greatly thrilled. 

"I became a minister before the Sunday School Board 
was founded. From this seed thought planted since that 
time this Board has had such a flourishing growth until 
it is astoundingly potential and limitless in its uplook, in- 
take, and outreach. It has a heart that pulsates with a 
warmth of compassion. 

"I have been impressed that its organization is fast and 
highly efficient. Its program is both extensive and inten- 
sive. Its service and influence is broad and far reaching. 
Its depth of purpose is deep and broad; its spirit is great. 
Its message is one of salvation, information, and inspira- 
tion. It challenges me with a clarion voice." 

Suttle then remarked upon how he had known Dr. j. M. 
Frost and had watched him lead the Board in its early days 
and how Dr. I. J. VanNess had built upon that founda- 
tion. Then, how Dr. T. L. Holcomb led in a phenomenal 
program of service to 6,500,000 Southern Baptists in 
country, village, town and city churches, and how their 
successors in office have seen that growth spiral ever out- 
ward and upward until now more than 8,000,000 mem- 
bers are enrolled in all of the 31,000 churches in the con- 
vention and that total gifts amount to something more 
than $300,000,000 annually. 

"To be a member of this huge organization is an honor, 
and to be a leader of any one of its churches is a great 
responsibility," says Leader John Suttle. 

One of his favorite stories concerning leadership involves 
the rather stuffy old man who came puffing and blowing 
up to a filling station driving a Model "T" Ford. 

"Have you seen anything of a group of young people 
going up this road in a brand new car?" 


Joseph Suttle 

G. W. Rollins 

These two pior 
for the ministry. 

neer Baptist leaders were his earliest inspiration 

A Baptist Asbury Reaches the Top 161 

Said the filling station man: "They passed here about 
fifteen minutes ago and were running pretty fast." 

"I'd better get going. I've got to catch them. I'm their 
leader." Says Brother John, "If a person is a leader he has 
got to lead." 

Josephus Daniels, former Secretary of the Navy, Advisor 
to Democratic Presidents, and editor of the powerful and 
influential Raleigh "News and Observer", wrote a column 


by The Rhamkatte Roaster 

"I sees in the pa-pers that there wuz a big fite in the 
Baptist State Convention as to who wud boss the deep- 
water Baptists fer the comin' year when hundreds ov dele- 
gates from Chowan to Chimney Rock met in Winston- 
Salem this week," said the Old Codger this morning. 

"Three city doctors ov divinity wuz in the race fer 
president an' all wuz defeated by a rube parson from 
Cleveland County. I shore wuz glad to see that we farm- 
ers, who feeds the cities, got recognition in a 7 5 -year-old 
circuit rider, who hain't never preached in a city church, 
who hain't no D.D. or LL.D., but just a sort ov George 
Truett preacher who air close to the folks. 

"It may have been in his favor that he belonged to what 
Cam Morrison used to call 'the Cleveland County oli- 
garchy,' what has furnished more fellers for big offices 
than any other county in recent years. Here air sum ov 
the list: Judge Jim Webb, Judge Yates Webb, State Au- 
ditor Dixon, Governor an' Ambassador Max Gardner, 
Speaker Odus Mull, Representative in State an' Republic, 
Governor an' Senator Hoey, and Clarence an' Tom an* 
Delia Dixon, an' Major an' other Shencks, to mention only 
a few who seemed to be predestined to hold public office. 

"Ye'd better not go up agin 'the Cleveland Oligarchy' 
in church or state if one ov 'em air a candidate. They air 
predestined to git the big jobs." 

The above article was in 1947 after Suttle's election. 

162 Canaan in Carolina 

The Old Codger cogitated again in 1948 after Brother 
John presided at Charlotte. 

by The Rhamkatte Roaster 

"Three cheers an' a tiger fer Country Preacher Suttle, 
75 years 3 oung, who wuz elected president ov the Baptist 
State Convention. Sum folks thort he wuz too old fer the 
job an' that a city feller who preaches only one or two 
times a week ort fer to have bin elected in order to git 
pep in the head ov the Baptist forces. But after hearin' 
President Suttle, pastor ov six country churches, they seed 
no mistook wuz made! 

'Thus spoke the Old Codger this morning as he dropped 
in to say that Rhamkatters, Methodists as well as Baptists, 
were glad a so-called Rube had been honored. Asked what 
the country parson said that proved he was the wise choice, 
the Old Codger replied: 

"Diddent ye read Jane Hall's story in the Nuisance Dis- 
turber?" Ye Editor had not. "That accounts fer yer lack 
ov knowledge, but I'll enliten yer ignorance. Here air 
what Jane reported Parson Suttle as sayin': 

" 'I've missed only four meetings of this convention in 
the last sixty years, and two of those years I was in the 

' 'I have no idea what you expect me to do but I am 
going to do it. 

'Yesterday, after my election, a young pastor came to 
me and intimated that you gave me this office because I 
was so old. He looked at me rather pityingly. I must 
admit I'm pitying the convention. 

c 'No man in the convention would dare to keep up 
with me. Last Sunday I preached three sermons, taught 
two Sunday School classes, and drove fifty miles. That 
night I slept like a baby. I do that sort of thing every 
Lord's Day and keep busy four nights in the week, too. 
Every time I come to Shelby I visit 50 to 100 sick people. 
' 'And that young fellow called me an old man.' 

A Baptist Asbury Reaches the Top 163 

"The last remark wuz in mock indignation." 
The Old Codger, after reading the above, commented: 
"I wishes evry public officer, preacher, teacher, etc., who 
air axin' to be retired at 60 or 65 an' rust out wud larn 
sumthin' from this country parson. He air the 1947 As- 
bury ov the Baptist persuasion. Ye recollect Asbury rode 
270,000 miles on hoss-back an' preached 16,275 sermons." 


Story Of The Prayer Meeting 
That Was Never Held 

"Yield Not to Temptation" 

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red — at the 
last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder. 

Proverbs 23:31-32 

"Mr. Moderator. I move our church go on record op- 
posing the saloon in our town and that we ask the owner 
to close it." 

"Second the motion." 

"All in favor, say 'aye'." 

A chorus of ayes resounded at the little church in Palm- 
erville and the moderator announced, "The ayes have it. 
I will personally tell Mr. Blank, the operator of the saloon, 
of our action and ask him to close it by Saturday night." 

Mr. Blank, the owner and operator of the Palmerville 
saloon in the year 1894, looked at Professor Eddins, the 
speaker, in front of him. Such a man, he thought, must 
have a lot of nerve coming to him, the most prominent, 
most influential, and wealthiest man in town. Said Pro- 
fessor Eddins, "Mr. Blank, our church has decided that 
your saloon will have to be closed. We like you and like 
your family and would like you to help us build this com- 


Story of the Prayer Meeting That Was Never Held 165 

munity. On Saturday night we are going to have a prayer 
meeting. At the prayer meeting we are going to ask God 
to save you or kill you. If your saloon is closed by Satur- 
day night, we won't hold the meeting. If you will close 
it and get the liquor out of town, we will wait until Sun- 
day for the prayer meeting and then we'll offer a prayer 
of thanksgiving." 

Mr. Blank laughed at the professor and firmly told him 
that he would keep the saloon open as long as he wanted 
to and that no little teacher or member of his church could 
tell him how to run his business. 

That was Monday. Every day that week until about 
Thursday Mr. Blank laughed with his friends and neigh- 
bors about the threat of a prayer meeting. About bed- 
time Thursday he became apprehensive. He knocked on 
Professor Eddins' door and said, "Teacher, I have come to 
tell you that I don't want you folks to hold that prayer 
meeting. I heard that John Suttle and old Sister Burch are 
going to be at the meeting and I honestly believe that if 
they ask the Lord to kill me, He'll listen to them and do 
it. How can I stop the meeting?" 

Brother Eddins was impressed but firm and said, "Mr. 
Blank, if the saloon is closed and all of that liquor is out 
of town Saturday night, there will be no meeting." All 
day Friday and Saturday wagons and carts came for their 
consignments and by Saturday night a sign on the door 
said, "CLOSED". 

It was into this revolutionary state of affairs that Brother 
John came to Palmerville, became pastor of the little 
church and figuratively, at least, put an "open" sign over 
the church door. About a year after committee action 
had closed the saloon, John reported the owner was hap- 
pily and joyously converted and joined his church where 
he became an excellent member. 

No one has fought the liquor traffic more constantly, 
defiantly, or successfully in North Carolina than John 
Suttle. He is very certain that it is morally wrong to 
make, sell, or use alcoholic beverages. He has some very 

166 Canaan in Carolina 

well defined ideas about the pathogenesis of becoming a 
drunkard. He has seen it happen in real life in at least 
four generations. 

"When we finally define our rights as individuals we 
will solve the liquor problem." He also says, "Fines never 
will control the making or sale of liquor because a fine is 
just a cheap license to go ahead." 

He is unalterably opposed to liquor stores since he says, 
"The profit motive is only added to the patient's craving, 
to make the problem even bigger." 

Mr. Suttle's life has been one of strictest temperance 
and a long battle against the liquor traffic. He has been 
one of the strongest supporters of legal prohibition of alco- 
holic liquors. He got this trait honestly because his grand- 
father, Elder Joseph Suttle, was one of the leaders in the 
Kings Mountain Association when the original fights for 
prohibition and temperance were begun. He recalls hear- 
ing his father tell about how the Association was divided 
during the year 1850-51 over a resolution passed at the 
High Shoals Baptist Church when the Association met 

It so happened that a great number of the delegates 
were in favor of temperance and some of the delegates 
were in favor of making their own liquor out of their 
own fruit and either selling or using their own product. 
To many of them it was a business proposition pure and 

However, the Association had passed a temperance reso- 
lution the previous fall and asked all the churches to ratify 
it and come willing to vote for temperance and against 
whiskey, with the understanding that only those churches 
who had passed the resolution could sit as proper members 
of the Association. 

It so happened that the membership of the High Shoals 
Baptist Church, where the Association was meeting, was 
in favor of whiskey instead of temperance. At the noon 
hour someone slipped in and locked the door. This locked 
out the Association. Delegates were told that all business 

Story of the Prayer Meeting That Was Never Held 167 

sessions would have to be held out in the grove, but that 
preaching could be held in the church. 

John Suttle's grandfather, Elder Joseph Suttle, was at 
that time pastor at Double Springs Church. He was rec- 
ognized as one of the members of the body but not offi- 
cially from Double Springs since this church had that year 
voted to support liquor instead of temperance. 

The following year, 1852, the vote was taken again at 
Double Springs and passed by one vote. It happened that 
Pastor Suttle and the clerk of the church scuffled over the 
ballots and in the scuffle turned over the table during con- 
ference. Feelings were so intense during that day and time 
about the liquor question that Elder Suttle had two broth- 
ers and two brothers-in-law who were excluded from the 
church on account of the liquor question. 

During that year at Zion the Elder Suttle had been in- 
vited by the pastor, the Reverend Robin Poston, to come 
and talk to the people at Zion about prohibition. How- 
ever, when he arrived, several of his friends told him that 
the membership of the church would not allow him to 
speak on that subject and a Mrs. Wellman offered to let 
him speak in a grove near her home. The announcement 
was made that he would speak in the grove immediately 
after the church service. He did not speak at church but 
did speak in the grove, and very soon Zion, too, had adopt- 
ed a temperance resolution. 

John Suttle remembers that a great many preachers, and 
many more laymen, and good honest citizens believed very 
strongly that to have a law prohibiting the making and 
use of alcohol was to take their liberty away. They be- 
lieved that this country was founded for the sake of lib- 
erty and for the law to deprive them of any sort of liberty 
was to return to anarchy. 

Some believed that a person had to take a little whiskey 
in order to be temperate. They failed to look up the defi- 
nition which Webster's dictionary gives suggesting that 

168 Canaan in Carolina 

temperance is the moderate use of anything not harmful 
and the total abstinence of anything harmful. 

The Kings Mountain Association remained divided for 
about seven years on the liquor question and finally was 
reunited at Zoar. The offshoot of the division was known 
as the "Continental Kings Mountain Association". 

During the early days at New Bethel, Lawndale and 
Double Shoals, Mr. Suttle recalls that none of those 
churches would allow members to drink liquor, or to sell 
liquor, or have anything at all to do with the liquor traffic. 
If they did so, they were called on the carpet and asked to 
explain their action, and if they had no honest, forthright 
explanation and did not ask forgiveness and make a prom- 
ise not to do it any more they were dismissed from the 
fellowship. He recalls that one man was called by the 
church clerk, Mr. Carme Elam, to appear at a church 
meeting on a certain Saturday. 

The man appeared as directed and asked forgiveness and 
that a prayer be offered in his behalf. The church went 
ahead and did as he requested. The next day members 
were greatly surprised to note that he had been arrested 
with a small load of whiskey which he had gotten from 
the mountains. He had stopped at the church for the 
meeting and then went on to the mountains to get the 

In the old days there were at least two saloons in Shelby; 
one located where Cohen's Department store now stands, 
and the other on the corner occupied by the First National 
Bank. There was a third saloon not very far from Shelby 
on what is now Highway 74, West, but then was the 
Shelby-Rutherford road. It sat just about where the road 
turns north to the Dover Mill. This was operated by a 
Mr. Price Hamrick who also farmed some of the nearby 

The state voted itself dry while Brother Suttle was pas- 
tor at Marshall. During the campaign he invited O. Max 
Gardner, Sr., to speak three times for him in May, just 
prior to the primary and the vote on the liquor question. 

Story of the Prayer Meeting That Was Never Held 169 

Mr. Gardner accepted, and drove up from Shelby. He 
spoke very forcefully in Marshall and out in the country. 
Although the county had been very wet, the election was 
carried by a considerable margin. 

Johnston County, during Mr. Suttle's pastorate, was 
known as the banner liquor county and the banner Demo- 
crat county of North Carolina. During his stay he helped 
mightily in changing both these features. He was one of 
the leading figures in the campaign to vote out saloons in 

It was not done all at once, but was effected in a meas- 
ure by voting out the saloons and voting in a dispensary, 
a sort of precursor to the present ABC stores, in which 
there was a considerable restriction on the sale of liquor, 
especially to drunkards, to young people, or to drinking on 
the premises. 

"Johnston County was normally Democratic, very 
strongly so, but due to my campaign one year it went 
Republican. The main reason for that was that a great 
number of the people were Hardshell Baptists and they 
wanted to keep their liquor. The Democrats were pledged 
to a dry campaign so the Hardshells turned Republican," 
explains John. 

Johnston County had what was known as the "watch 
law" in which no district in the county and no town 
under 5,000 persons could have a saloon or a dispensary. 
There was no town in the county over 5,000 at that time. 
Mr. Suttle spent a great deal of time that year in lobbying 
at the state capital. He became close friends with the late 
R. N. Sims, a lawyer of Raleigh, and asked Mr. Sims to 
draft a bill which later became known as the Suttle Law. 

In some manner Mr. Sims worded the law so strictly 
that a man could not even make cider from his own apples 
and remain within the law. Mr. Suttle was chairman of 
the Anti-Saloon League of Johnston County and Smith- 
field and spent all the time that he was not in the pulpit 

170 Canaan in Carolina 

preaching and teaching and exhorting people to change 
to prohibition and drive out whiskey legally. 

He tells the story of Tom Barron who was chief of police 
in Smithfield at that time. Mr. Barron was a sober man 
but he was in favor of liquor and in favor of a state con- 
trolled dispensary. The wets and the drys had a sort of 
an agreement that if the drys won, all the new officers 
would be drys. If the wets won, all the new officers would 
be wets. The drys won, but not until several of the wets 

had made a threat thus, "This D little preacher will 

not last in Smithfield six months." Mr. Suttle sent word 
to the liquor forces that he was going to remain in John- 
ston County and Smithfield "until all the legal liquor in 
the entire county is dried up". 

For a year or two Mr. Barron avoided Mr. Suttle, would 
not speak to him in the post office or on the street and 
would not come to church. However, finally in one of 
the stores Mr. Suttle was able to back him up into a corner 
and hold him long enough to tell him that he was sorry 
that they could not be friends, that he hoped he would 
think very seriously about adding his talent to that of the 
other citizens of the community in making Smithfield a 
better place, and invited him to the revival services that 

Strangely enough he came. He came all the way up on 
the pulpit and picked up Mr. Suttle who weighed less 
than 100 pounds, then hugged him saying, "Brother John, 
you're right. You've always been right." He went on to 
be baptized the very next night and made one of the best 
members of the church. 

On another occasion the huge business man and farmer 
bodily picked up Brother Suttle. This occasion was upon 
the death of his little daughter, Marie, whom he loved very 

Mr. Suttle has faced liquor problems while in the Cleve- 
land County ministry, but the county has been dry since 
he came back to serve churches here. Mainly liquor prob- 
lems have been among personal members. 

Story of the Prayer Meeting That Was Never Held 171 

Brother John received one bottle of liquor in his life, 
this being a gift from a Marshall business man upon the 
occasion of his 15 th wedding anniversary. He had gone 
into the business man's store to buy a window shade and 
asked the merchant whether or not he was a Christian. He 
replied, "No." He also asked him if he had ever been a 
Christian or been a member of the church and he replied, 
"No." Later the man sent Mr. Suttle a bottle of whiskey 
which he claimed was fifteen years old and asked him to 
see if he could keep it that long. Mr. Suttle did keep it; 
not only fifteen years but twenty or more years and still 
has a little of the whiskey in the original bottle. Most of 
the contents have evaporated. 

Mr. Suttle reports that one of the best drunk men or 
drunkards he has ever known was a man named Eli Olive 
of Johnston County. He and Mrs. Suttle first became 
acquainted with him one night when they heard a great 
moaning and groaning down at the cemetery which was 
just a few hundred feet from where they lived. They 
learned the next morning that the man doing the moaning 
and groaning was Eli Olive, a big farmer who drove a fine 
carriage and was considered rather wealthy. 


How A Chew Of Tobacco 
Won A Convert 

"On Jordan's Stormy Banks" 

The harvest truly is plenteous, 
but the laborers are few. 

Matthew 9:37 

Revival meetings to a country preacher are what interest 
is to a banker, dividends to an investor, harvest to the 
farmer, and an epidemic to a physician. It is a time of 
gathering, a time of agonizing, a time of supreme effort, a 
time of rejoicing, and a time of healing. 

It is also a time for fried chicken, country ham, apple 
pies, cakes and sweets and the finest "rations and vittles" 
the good woman of the house can produce for the pastor 
and the visiting preacher who usually "runs the meeting". 

In 65 years of evangelizing, John has often been the host 
pastor and sometimes the visitor who ran the meeting. 

At other times he preached his own revival services. 
Some people said he did it because he wanted to keep the 
money for himself. Others understood that after working 
with certain groups of unsaved, unrepentant persons a 
whole year or for many years, he coveted the joy of seeing 
them come to the mourner's bench or into church mem- 


How a Chew of Tobacco Won a Convert 173 

bership under the power of his own "revival preaching". 
"I have baptized over 5,000 persons in my own churches 
and almost an equal number in other churches where I 
assisted with the meetings," John says. 

Until more recent years, it has been the custom among 
the churches of Piedmont North Carolina to have an an- 
nual revival meeting in July or August. This week of 
preaching services once or twice a day was commonly 
known as the "big meeting". In rural churches it came 
to be the most important activity of the entire church 
year, even outranking the meeting of the Association in 
importance for any particular church. 

Middle of the summer was chosen for several reasons, 
mainly because it was "laying by time" for the crops. 
Cotton and corn were plowed the last time just before the 
meeting began. Grain had been cut in June, and fall har- 
vest did not begin until September. 

Everybody came. It was almost like a week of successive 
holidays. Whole families, none of whom had attended 
church for a year, often attended every session of this par- 
ticular meeting. Then after it was over, unless they were 
truly revived, they slipped back into the old ways. 

Unconsciously perhaps, a great number of people had 
come to believe that the only time to join a Baptist Church 
was during the annual protracted meeting. Even though 
they got conviction and privately professed a belief in a 
personal Saviour, it was customary to wait for one of the 
various invitations given at revival. 

The impact revival meetings had on communities and 
individuals is incalculable. An entire book could be writ- 
ten about the sermons, the singing, the mourner's bench 
and heart rending confessions which were made in those 
meetings. John took in stride the type of revivals his 
churches were accustomed to having when he became a 
minister, and as times changed, his revivals changed, except 
he always insisted that every service be truly evangelistic 
and that anyone present who decided to do so, could make 

174 Canaan in Carolina 

a profession of faith and offer himself for church mem- 

As a child, John had gone with his family and relatives 
to large numbers of revival meetings in nearby churches, 
but they had never gone in for the "camp meeting" type 
of revivals which were held frequently in various sections 
of North Carolina. Two of the most famous of these old 
camp grounds in this section are at Rock Springs in Lin- 
coln County and Ball's Creek in Catawba County. Per- 
haps the most famous and biggest from point of numbers 
was the Cane Ridge Camp Ground in Kentucky where as 
many as 15,000 to 20,000 people would gather for as much 
as two weeks revival. 

Revival meeting in the early days was a time for visiting 
in the home, for meeting all the members of the family 
and for as many as could to meet the preacher and to 
know him personally. 

It was a time of story telling and exchange of ideas. 
Many sinners were won in private conversations who could 
not be persuaded even by powerful preaching. For in- 
stance, at Roxboro John helped the Reverend Frank Put- 
nam in a meeting. There was a man of another denomina- 
tion who lived in the neighborhood and attended Brother 
Putnam's church at times. A former pastor of this man 
was preaching "too much about the vile use of tobacco". 
This man indulged very freely in the use of the weed, and 
got tired hearing so much about it. He just decided to 
stay at home and enjoy chewing and smoking. 

During the revival his good wife invited the preachers 
to dine with them. They accepted the invitation with 
gratitude. Mr. Putnam warned John, "Don't say any- 
thing against tobacco." The host was sitting on the front 
porch with his feet on the banisters when they arrived. 
They said he could expectorate farther than anyone 
around. Just as they entered the gate he "hit the bull's 
eye", wiped his mouth, got up and welcomed the pair of 

John greeted him with, "Why brother, would you use 

How a Chew of Tobacco Won a Convert 175 

such a filthy thing as tobacco?" His eyes glistened as he 
replied, "Yes, I do and it's nobody's darned business." 

John said, "Will you give me a piece?" He was amazed 
and asked, "Do you mean it?" "Why yes," was the reply. 
He pulled a plug from his pocket and insisted that John 
take it all. He was so pleased that he and his wife both 
came to church that night and joined. 

"Brother Suttle, will you have a piece of chicken?" the 
housewife at Double Shoals asked the minister who was at 
her house for dinner. He had been to this particular home 
on many occasions and today his guest was the Reverend 
Leland Royster who was helping him in the annual meet- 
ing. John's favorite piece of chicken was the neck. 

"I always ate the neck because I got less chicken that 
way," wryly smiled Brother John, "but on this particular 
day I got more than I bargained for. I started to get the 
neck as usual and as I pulled the piece toward my plate, 
lo and behold there was a neck nearly seven inches long 
which had been carefully camouflaged by the other pieces 
of chicken. My hostess was a woman who had a good 
sense of humor and had always heard that I ate only the 
neck of fried chicken. 

"She had artfully cut the neck as long as possible, and 
in addition, had trimmed off the rest of the anatomy of 
that chicken down the backbone, all the way to the part 
of the chicken that goes over the fence last. It was, verily, 
the longest chicken neck I ever ate. All the members of 
the family and the guests had a good laugh." 

On one occasion Brother John was having a meal with 
the Reverend J. L. Jenkins. They were in one of the mem- 
ber's homes and among the guests was a soldier boy from 
New Jersey or one of the New England states. 

The hostess served hot biscuits, quite typical of southern 
meals. This Yankee boy had never eaten hot biscuits and 
was timid and didn't exactly understand what kind of 
bread it was. He wrote his mother, "I visited in a very 
nice home tonight, and we had a new kind of bread which 

176 Canaan in Carolina 

was very, very good. I think the lady called it, 'Hav'a 
ot un . 

Not all prospective members have good sense or a good 
attitude. Some are exasperating. 

Brother R. E. Treadway was conducting a meeting at 
New Prospect. He recognized a mourner in the audience 
who had been up for prayer the day before. It was a hot 
day and he was fanning vigorously. 

Brother Treadway: "How do you feel?" 

Sinner: "Hot, about the hottest day we've had. I was 
just standing here watching them pull fodder. How would 
you like to pull fodder?" 

Brother Treadway: "You did not understand me. How 
do you feel spiritually? Have you made peace with the 

Sinner: "I don't know that me and the Lord has had 
any particular falling out." 

Brother Treadway: "You still don't understand me. 
Don't you want to be born again?" 

Sinner: "Been born once, don't want to be born again. 
Afraid they might make a gal out of me." 

Sometimes when the family goes along with the visiting 
minister, it makes a difference. When Bertie Lee and C. B. 
were but infants, the Reverend Mr. Suttle was assisting 
another minister in a meeting. Of course, Mrs. Suttle re- 
mained home with her children. The family with wnom 
Mr. Suttle was staying, however, insisted so frequently 
that Mrs. Suttle bring the children over for a night, she 
agreed to do so. 

The home where they stayed was a nice large one, and 
soon Mrs. Suttle found herself with her babies in a spacious 
room with two feather beds. "John can take one child 
and sleep in one of the beds," she planned, "and I'll take 
the other child and sleep in the other bed." 

Before she had completed the thought the host remarked, 
"Well, Brother Suttle, you and your wife and children 

How a Chew of Tobacco Won a Convert 177 

can occupy this bed, and Brother Blank can occupy the 
one in the corner." 

Mrs. Suttle, faced with the prospects of four in one bed 
and a strange preacher in the same room, let her head down 
on her arms at the table and burst into tears. Quietly 
Brother Suttle called his host aside. "Brother Jones," he 
confided, "my wife thinks it is bad enough to sleep in the 
same room with one man, let alone two." 

Other arrangements were quickly made since the house 
had many beds. The host explained that the one room he 
proffered was simply their customary method of sleeping 

The largest meeting Brother Suttle ever held was in the 
year 1907 while he was pastor at Marshall. He assisted in 
a revival at Mars Hill College and there baptized 98 per- 
sons in what is known as the Cascades, in the creek near 
Mars Hill. It was a meeting of ten days duration and he 
said one of the most enthusiastic revivals he ever attended. 

He roomed at the home of Mr. Robert Gibbs who was 
a brother to the late Dr. E. W. Gibbs of Shelby. Mr. Gibbs 
was a Methodist but, with his daughter and other members 
of the family, joined the Baptist Church. The father and 
daughter joined the same evening. 

Another one of the largest meetings Brother Suttle ever 
presided over was at the Princeton Baptist Church about 
the year 1900. When the meeting began there were seven 
members, one male and six female. At this meeting 89 
persons were baptized after a ten day series of services. 
All of these were grown people except three children. 

They were baptized in Holts Lake, and a very large 
crowd from Johnston County was present. The candidates 
all sang "Shall We Gather At The River" and then walked 
into the lake. They formed a single line and Brother Suttle 
walked down the line baptizing the entire 89. "I was tired 
but happy," he said. 

After he had completed the baptismal services the can- 
didates then marched out of the lake singing "Marching 

178 Canaan in Carolina 

To Zion". He had many meetings in which 30, 40, or 50 
persons were converted and baptized, and he has had only 
one meeting where there were no conversions and no bap- 

He seems to like Hickory for meetings outside Cleve- 
land County, having held five meetings there, four at 
Highland Church and one at Brown Memorial. He has also 
held meetings in Concord, Salisbury, Stanly County and 
very often in his old county of Johnston. 

Baptizing in a rural situation is not without its dangers. 

There were quite a few to baptize at Sandy Run Church. 
They did not have a baptistry, so some of the members 
went out to a pond that was not used much to clear out 
a path to the water. As it was the minister's custom, he 
went early to see that everything was in perfect order. 

He inquired of one fellow who was wielding the hoe 
quite vigorously what he was doing. "Killing snakes," was 
the reply, and John was shown a big pile of dead snakes — 
big, ugly, poisonous water moccasins. 

"Get them out of sight quick," was the preacher's 
urgent response. 

John recalls that a story was once told on Dr. George 
Purefoy who also had an experience with snakes. Dr. 
Purefoy was baptizing a number of candidates when all 
of a sudden a harelipped fellow began to pull back. "Oh, 
come, brother," remarked the preacher. "Don't be fright- 

"I'm not," said the boy. "Don't you thee that sthanke?" 
The preacher, a little deaf, could not quite understand. 
"Come on, brother, come on," coaxed the preacher. 

"I thay," says the boy. "Don't you see that damn 
sthanke?" After the excitement was over he repented, 
asked to be forgiven, and was baptized. 

For the most part, feelings and emotional outbursts are 
kept under fair control, but half a century ago nearly 
every church had one or two shouters. Mrs. "Jones" and 
Mrs. "Brown" were inveterate "shouters" at Pleasant Grove 
Church. When one would shout the other always joined 

How a Chew of Tobacco Won a Convert 179 

in. On this particular occasion they sat opposite each 
other with split bonnets on. They decided to get up at 
the same time, hit their bonnets together with such force 
that they knocked each other back. Mrs. "Jones" arose, 
pushing back her bonnet, and asked, "What in the devil 
you trying to do? Bust somebody's brains out?" 

At the same church during a revival, Brother D. G. 
Washburn asked everyone to go out alone at sunset and 
pray for the meeting, come back next day and give their 
experience. Old Brother Lawson Wright, a licentiate 
preacher, gave his experience thus: "Brother Washburn, 
I went out behind the barn in the fence corner and prayed. 
I got so happy I looked around for someone to shake 
hands with. There was no one in sight except my old milk 
cow. I just grabbed her tail and shook it." He concluded 
by saying, "Brethren, when you get happy, it's good to 
shake tails with a cow." 

Herman Redmon, a boy of twelve who lived on the 
banks of the French Broad and went in swimming just 
any time, was not ready to be immersed with the rest of 
the candidates because he did not get his clothes on in time. 

Mrs. Falls was very religious, always attended church 
and made a record of the text. On this particular Sunday 
she was ill and impressed it on her young son to remember 
the text so Mother could record it. When he returned, 
this conversation took place. 

"Son, was it a good sermon?" 

"Yes, Ma." 

"Do you remember the text?" 

"Yes, Ma." 

"Where was it?" 

"I don't remember where it was, but the text was 'Don't 
be scared. You will get your quilt!" 

The text really was, "Fear not, I will give thee the Com- 

Mr. Suttle often tells this story when he runs into cold, 
indifferent people at revival meetings. He was helping the 
late W. R. Bradshaw in a meeting at the Halltown Baptist 

180 Canaan in Carolina 

Church near Marion. Attendance was poor, response to 
the minister's invitation was poor, no one had gone out 
to seek the lost, and in general, the meeting was cold — 
very cold. On the last night of the service Brother Brad- 
shaw tearfully told the congregation that he was frankly 
very much disappointed and stated he was going to pray 
one last prayer. 

Whereupon he did pray a very eloquent prayer in which 
he asked the Lord to send these people a sign; a sign that 
the Lord is God; 3 sign to jolt them out of their lethargy. 
Then almost before he got out of the community things 
began to happen. 

One man murdered his neighbor; another was killed 
when his house fell upon him. As if that were not enough, 
a smallpox epidemic broke out and thirteen people in that 
small community died. 

Brother Suttle later held a meeting at the Halltown 
Church and said it was one of the finest, most responsive 
meetings he had ever held. Bradshaw went on later to 
become pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hickory and 
then of Brown Memorial Church of Winston-Salem. 

One of John's favorite illustrations in evangelistic ser- 
mons had to do with Dwight L. Moody's mistake. The 
famed Moody of Chicago told a story on himself that in 
his ministry he used to tell the people to think over his 
message and go home and decide. 

Then came the disastrous Chicago fire of 1886 and a 
large number of people who had been attending services 
did not get to come back. From then on Mr. Moody al- 
ways said, "Decide now." Mr. Suttle said he urges people 
to decide now. They might not come back. 

John Suttle's approach to a sinner is direct and forth- 
right. Some of his friends said that he is too direct and 
too abrupt. However, the following incident will illus- 
trate something of his approach to a certain type of man. 

A grown man in the eastern part of the state, a Hard- 
shell Baptist by background, got under conviction and 

How a Chew of Tobacco Won a Convert 181 

wanted to be saved but stated that he was "waiting on 

After dealing with him for several days, Brother Suttle 
explained that he thought the time was right now for him 
to come and make a public profession and join the church. 

"But Brother Suttle, I'm still waiting on feeling. I just 
don't feel that I am saved." 

John told him, "Then I'll pray for something that will 
give you feeling. I'll pray that you may lose your health 
and then you can have plenty of feeling." The man said 
that he didn't want to lose his health. 

"Very well then," said John. "I'll pray that your wife 
may get sick or lose her health or that your mother may 

Still the man was not willing for any of these things to 
happen. Then said Brother Suttle, "It's not feeling you 
want man. It's faith in the Lord." The man saw the point 
and was saved. 

Brother Suttle has been in many communities which 
were faced with drought and has conducted prayer meet- 
ings for rain. Always he has had great faith in prayer for 
rains and says it does a lot of good whether it rains or not. 
He says that if it doesn't rain, it doesn't mean the Lord 
doesn't answer prayer. It just means He said, "No!" 

There is the story of the young minister who arrived 
in a drought-stricken community just in time to be called 
upon to lead the prayer for rain. He did so in a very 
effective manner and prayed so earnestly and so effectively 
that by the time the meeting was over the rain was pour- 
ing down in torrents. It rained all night, the next day and 
the following day, until the streams were out of their 
banks and the crops deluged. Church members met again 
and decided they would pray for the rain to stop. Some- 
one asked if they should invite the young minister to lead 
the prayer. 

One farmer said, "No! I believe we had better ask 
somebody else. This young preacher has brought so much 
rain it shows he doesn't know anything about agriculture." 

182 Canaan in Carolina 

During a severe drought which threatened to destroy 
all of the crops, members of one of the county churches 
decided to hold a prayer meeting for rain. Brother Suttle 
was to be assisted by another pastor in conducting the 
prayers. All were standing around in the church yard 
before the meeting began. 

Brother Suttle said to his fellow preacher, "Well, Broth- 
er, don't you think we had better go in now to begin the 

"No, not quite yet," the other whispered. "The wind is 
coming from the wrong direction." 

The season was bad for crops. Rain refused to come and 
the upland corn was parched. Only in the rich bottom 
lands did the leaves remain green and growing. As soon 
as the old farmer had become resigned to the loss of all 
crops except those in the bottom land, the rains came. 
They came in such torrents that the green corn in the bot- 
tom land was flooded and destroyed. 

"You know what I think?" the perplexed man said to 
Brother John. "I think the Lord ain't much more for ye 
than he is agin' ye." 

He tells one story which he said actually occurred when 
he came to South Shelby. He was preaching away in good 
form when a late comer opened the door, came in and sat 
down quietly. The breeze which came in from the open 
door caused a tall slender man to sneeze. He sneezed so 
violently that he spit out his false teeth. The molars rolled 
down the aisle at least two benches in front of him. 

Brother Suttle says it is a fact that the slim man leaned 
forward, crawled on his hands and knees down the aisle 
to retrieve the teeth, popped them back into his mouth 
and then backed up to the place he was sitting. 

How a Chew of Tobacco Won a Convert 183 

Dr. C. C. Haymore of Mt. Airy, North Carolina, helped 
John in several meetings. Later he was honored by having 
Haymore Memorial Church in Mt. Airy named for him. 
Sometime during a revival meeting, he usually quoted the 
following poem of which he was the author: 

Saint Peter settin at de gate, 

Nigger passin' by. 
Saint Peter up and says to him 

How did you come to die? 

"Go ax de man what held de gun 

A pintin at de roos, 
Go ax de dog what held my foot, 

And would not let hit loose." 

And so Saint Peter says to him, 

"You was koch in de act," 
Dat nigger turnt and looked at him 

And spons "hit is a fact." 

Down in de pit den you must go 

For stealin of dat hen, 
Dat nigger scrach his head right hard, 

Saint Peter had him den. 

But directly liffin up his arms, 

He flop em on his side, 
An zactly like a rooster crows, 

Three times out loud he cried. 

Saint Peter hung his head in shame, 

He 'member ed of his sin; 
And grabbing up a great big key, 

He let dat nigger in. 

Although John Suttle got as much fun as anybody out 
of being with people, telling his own stories and listening 
to theirs, when he got into the pulpit he was deadly serious 
about winning the lost to Christ. 

Fred Cartee, one of the promising young ministers of 
this section, recalls his first experience in being in a Suttle 
meeting. John was helping one of his preacher boys, the 

184 Canaan in Carolina 

Reverend W. F. McGinnis, pastor of High Shoals in Ruth- 
erford County, in a meeting. 

Fred said, "I sensed something in his efforts that I had 
never felt before. He seemed to preach every day as 
though that would be the last sermon he would ever preach, 
and no one knew but what it might be for the doctors had 
advised him against preaching in revivals. Besides his earn- 
est preaching appeal to the people, he insisted that I use 
'On Jordan's Stormy Banks' as the invitation hymn. If I 
made any other selection he would ask me to change after 
two or three verses to what he called 'my song'." 

His appeal to the lost was something like this. "I know 
that I stand on the banks of Jordan and can almost see 
the other side. Now, who will come and go with me, I 
am bound for the Promised Land. I am on my way to 
that promised land. Are you? Why not accept Christ as 
your Saviour tonight and get upon that road that leads to 
the Promised Land. 

"No doubt I will be over in Glory ahead of most of 
you, but I will be waiting for you on Canaan's happy 
shore. If any of you don't come, I'm going to be disap- 
pointed because He made a Way and I offer you that Way 

"Don't disappoint us and don't disappoint God, but ac- 
cept God's Son who is the Way, the Truth and the Life." 

Fred, along with many other young ministers, has para- 
phrased the words of the young Prophet Elisha. "My fond- 
est wish is that the mantle of Brother Suttle would fall 
upon me and that I be given a double portion of his spirit." 


Why The Little Horse Did Not Drown 

"He Leadeth Me." 

1 opened my doors to the traveller. 
Job 31:32 

"Parson, do you need any help?" said a stranger at the 
water's edge of Main Broad River one day in 1907. 

"No, why?" asked John. 

"Well, it looks like that little horse of yours is going to 
drown himself." He had noticed that the pony-sized ani- 
mal John was driving had plunged his nose into the water 
up to his eyes to drink of the cooling flow of the mountain 

"He does that because he is a 'banker'," John explained 
to the stranger. "He is not a real banker like you are 
thinking about. He is of a breed that is native to the 'outer 
banks' of the coastal section of Eastern North Carolina. 
Down east they have to stick their heads deep into that 
brackish water to get a fresh drink." 

John had taken Billy, the little "banker pony", with him 
to Marshall when he moved his family there in the fall of 
1907. Billy was a Shetland type pony, mixed with a little 


186 Canaan in Carolina 

horse and was about as tough as the proverbial Rocky 
Mountain burro. He was wiry of build, with long coarse 
hair, slender legs, and small feet. 

"He was especially smart and apt when it came to trav- 
eling the rough mountain roads in those days. And the 
roads were really rough, rocky, and dangerous from slides 
in the winter," said John. 

Billy not only drank his fill from Broad River that day, 
but pulled the buggy on across and to Shelby. He made 
the trip from Shelby to Marshall several times, a distance 
of over 100 miles. It took him about a week to make the 
trip to the mountains when he traveled 3 50 miles from 
Smithfield to Marshall. 

Mrs. Suttle recalled the first day they arrived in Madison 
that a man on the street who was slightly intoxicated 
blurted out, "My God men, look at that little pony, that 
little buggy and that little man." Even though Billy was 
small, he was a good family horse, a good fox horse and 
performed perfectly in all kinds of weather. "Just the 
horse I needed then," says John. 

For more than a quarter of a century John did his trav- 
eling by the customary methods of that day. He walked, 
rode a horse or drove a buggy, carriage or wagon. Most 
of the time it was a buggy. Not too long ago he took his 
first ride in an airplane and expressed the opinion that if 
he were going to preach fifty more years, he would do a 
lot of traveling by air. 

"My first horse was an old buckskin-colored horse. I 
brightened him up a bit by letting him pull a yellow buggy 
with yellow harness. I paid $125.00 for the horse and an 
equal amount for the rig," he said. 

John had one of the old-fashioned lap robes which was 
colored red on one side and black on the other; also, a 
rather fancy buggy whip. In the wintertime he would 
heat a rock and put it in the foot of the buggy, cover it 
up with the lap robe and keep fairly warm. After a few 
years, when he felt he could afford it, he bought a little 

Why the Little Horse Dm Not Drown 187 

charcoal stove. He would light up the charcoal before he 
left home, put it down in front of the dashboard of the 
buggy, fold the lap robe over it and there was enough 
warmth not only for his feet, but for the rest of his body 
as well. 

He recalls that one winter when he was living at Cleve- 
land Mills in Lawndale he drove all the way to Bethlehem 
for one of the Saturday afternoon meetings. When he got 
there he found out that there was no fire in the church. 
In fact, there being snow on the ground, nobody planned 
to attend. He stood around a little while wondering what 
to do when a gentleman came up and asked him to go to 
dinner. He reported that his wife had seen him pass and 
said, "I believe that's the new preacher. You better go 
down and invite him to come to dinner." It turned out 
that his host was J. T. McDaniel who was the father of 
Mrs. W. G. Camp, wife of the present pastor of Sandy 

Since he had to travel a great deal and had to drive his 
animals fairly hard, Brother Suttle traded often. How- 
ever, he said he did not trade as often as one old preacher, 
the Reverend B. M. Bridges, who was pastor of a good 
many churches in the western part of the Association and 
who lived near the present Pleasant Ridge Community. 

The story is told that Mr. Bridges and the Reverend 
A. C. Irvin traded horses once upon a time in a trade not 
too satisfactory to Brother Irvin. It was said that Mr. 
Irvin had a horse which stumbled occasionally and he was 
afraid of a stumbling horse because from time to time he 
had his wife and several children in the buggy with him. 
He was afraid someone might get hurt. So he asked Mr. 
Bridges, who had the reputation of being quite a horse 
trader, if he would look out and see if he could find some- 
one who would trade with him. 

"I'll be glad to let you have my horse for yours," said 
Brother Bridges. Whereupon Mr. Irvin said, "It's a trade." 
At the next Associational meeting, however, he and Mr. 

188 Canaan in Carolina 

Bridges were hardly on speaking terms because he said the 
Bridges horse stumbled even worse than his own. 

For longer trips John always took the train. In this 
manner he went to approximately 60 of the 65 meetings 
of the Southern Baptist Convention held during his active 
ministry, a record perhaps not equalled in the entire con- 

"I have also been fortunate enough to attend all but 
four of the meetings of our Baptist State Convention in 
that time," he says. He has been present at all the com- 
mencement exercises of Gardner-Webb College the past 
50 years, a record equalled only by Mrs. J. D. Huggins, 
widow of the school's first principal. 

Before the advent of good roads and the invention of 
automobiles and buses, for a minister to be able to travel 
as extensively as John and make all appointments in spite 
of weather and distance, is an accomplishment little short 
of a miracle. 

The long hours spent in the saddle or in the buggy were 
John's study time. It was then he thought out the prob- 
lems of his churches and of his members. As the horse 
jogged along the familiar roads, the young minister had 
plenty of time to outline his next sermon or half a dozen 
sermons, memorize them and repeat the important points 
over and over. 

"The young minister of this day and time never has so 
much free time as I had. Lack of time and distractions 
such as telephones, radios, television, and usual city noises 
can keep a person from concentrating like he ought to," 
he says. "No wonder so many of the new preachers have 
to quote part of their sermons out of books. They never 
have time to think out the thoughts for themselves," he 

In early 1918, John was driving a big bay horse named 
Fred. Fred was a good horse and could run like an Arabian 
charger, but even at that, to get around to all of the six 
churches and John's many meetings was too much for him. 

Why the Little Horse Did Not Drown 189 

Fred, buggy, harness and all went to the block. He was 
traded for a car, a spanking new Maxwell, which John 
promptly dubbed, "The Gospel Car". 

He proceeded to put 100,000 miles on the speedometer 
before he traded it in for another Maxwell, which he 
named, "Gospel Car No. II". 

A sidelight about this car concerns A. V. Washburn, 
Jr., who at present is Secretary of the Sunday School De- 
partment of the Sunday School Board in Nashville, Ten- 
nessee. A. V., then quite a small boy, one day rushed into 
the kitchen to find his mother. 

"Pastor Suttle tells lies," he said to his mother. "Why 
A. V., how can you say such a thing? You know Brother 
Suttle is a good man and truthful. What makes you think 
so?" asked his worried mother. 

"Well, he told us Sunday he had a Gospel Car. It ain't 
so. It's an old Maxwell just like ours," he told her. 

Incidentally, Pastor Suttle was the second person in 
Cleveland County to drive all the way from Shelby, North 
Carolina, to Atlanta, Georgia, in an automobile the same 
day. Charles L. Eskridge, former auto dealer, was the first. 
In a day when top speed for a car was 25 miles per hour 
and roads were unpaved, often muddy and rocky all the 
way, that was indeed an accomplishment. The distance 
then was approximately 300 miles. 

The next car was a Ford coupe which he also drove more 
than 100,000 miles. The next three were Oldsmobiles 
which also took on their hundreds of thousands of miles. 

The last and final car which Pastor Suttle has driven and 
still is driving is a 1950 Buick which he received as a pres- 
ent on the occasion of his 80th birthday. This car he 
enjoys driving as well or better than any of the others but 
he adds rather ruefully, "It does drink up the gas." 

In all of his hundreds of thousands of miles of driving 
he has not had a major accident, and no one has ever been 
hurt in the small accidents in which he has been involved. 
Furthermore, he has not been late to a preaching appoint- 

190 Canaan in Carolina 

ment on account of car failure; or late at all, for that 

He tells the story that on one occasion he thought he 
would be late. He was driving from Sandy Run in Moores- 
boro to Double Springs for a preaching appointment, ac- 
companied by Bob Moore of Mooresboro. A wheel of his 
old Maxwell came off and rolled out into the cotton patch. 

Mr. Moore told him, "Parson, this is one time you are 
going to be late for sure." But it happened he was not 
late. About that time Dr. L. V. Lee of Lattimore came 
by on his way to make a call and recognized Pastor Suttle, 
stopped and asked if he could help, and volunteered to 
take him to Double Springs. 

Dr. Lee got him there about one minute ahead of time. 
Mr. Moore stayed to fix the wheel and brought it on to 
Double Springs by the time the service was over. 

About the only brush Brother John ever had with the 
law was when vandals stole and burned one of his Oldsmo- 
biles in 1938. The Shelby Daily Star reported the incident: 

"Vandalism of a brand seldom heard of in this area, last 
night destroyed the Oldsmobile sedan of the Reverend 
J. W. Suttle, as the thieves who stole it from in front of 
his home Tuesday burned it to the ground on the highway 
between Anderson and Greenville, South Carolina. 

"Sheriff Raymond Cline said he was in touch with South 
Carolina officers who reported that the car was found 
burned and smoking, a total loss. 

"In addition to Reverend Mr. Suttle's car, the thieves 
stole another and burned it, then stole another, and in a 
gun battle with officers jumped out and ran. The last I 
heard, the officers felt capture was near," Sheriff Cline 

Insurance and gifts from friends and churches quickly 
replaced his car. 

When he could get a few days respite from his labor in 
the churches John and Mrs. Suttle would drive up to Hart- 
ford, Connecticut, to visit their two daughters and their 

Why the Little Horse Did Not Drown 191 

families. On one such occasion this trip brought them a 
pleasant surprise. Mrs. Suttle recalls the details. 

"We were headed toward a bridge across the Potomac 
when a traffic officer hailed us. 'You can't go through 
here,' he said. 'What's the matter, is the bridge washed 
out?' inquired the minister. 'No, the King and Queen are 
to pass in a few minutes,' returned the officer." 

The Shelby party headed into a nearby parking space 
and in less than twenty minutes the royal party passed by 
within twenty feet of where they were standing. The King 
and Queen had been to Arlington and Mount Vernon. 

Soon the Shelby people were on their way after experi- 
encing the thrill of a lifetime. 

The need for improved travel made John conscious of 
all the factors involved in getting good roads. While not 
strictly a politician, he was constantly on the lookout for 
opportunities to help get more and better roads. 

He was a friend to T. Max Watson who at one time was 
District Commissioner for the State Highway Depart- 
ment. Mr. Watson was one of his Rutherford County 
cousins and one of the most influential figures in this sec- 
tion. Watson and O. Max Gardner were close friends also, 
and through the mutual acquaintance of Suttle and Gard- 
ner, Mr. Watson found ways and means of paving drive- 
ways around Gardner-Webb College. 

The question of putting down paving around the circle 
in front of the President's home was brought up. Mr. 
Gardner had told Mr. Watson that he was not going to 
ask him for the favor. Whereupon Mr. Watson replied, 
"There wasn't any way that I could do the other paving 
with tax money but I did; I guess they will hang me just 
as high to steal a lamb as they would to steal a sheep. We'll 
just pave both roads." 



I'm Living To Preach That 
Doctor's Funeral" 

"The Great Physician Now Is Near." 

O Lord, my God, 1 cried unto thee, 
and thou hast healed me. 

Psalm 30:2 

"Now, I have got John Suttle right where I want him," 
Dr. E. B. Lattimore said to the nurses as the popular min- 
ister faded into unconsciousness under an anesthetic. "This 
man has put me to sleep many times with his sermons, and 
now we will put him to sleep with ether." 

Mr. Suttle was having an operation on his ailing jaw 
and had to have a general anesthetic. 

Dr. Lattimore, pioneer general practitioner from a 
prominent Cleveland County family, and who has been 
in the active practice of medicine nearly sixty years, has 
been the family physician of John Suttle since he returned 
to Cleveland County in 1908. 

"I guess I have delivered over 5,000 babies and have 
made well over $1,000,000 but, of course, I was unable to 
collect all that money," says the aging family doctor with 
a twinkle in his eye. 


"I'm Living to Preach That Doctor's Funeral" 193 

"Right now I am just waiting around a little longer to 
be able to sign John's death certificate." 

"You'll do nothing of the kind," chimed in Brother 
John. "One of the reasons I am waiting around is just to 
be able to preach your funeral," he added. 

So the two doughty old warriors of Medicine and Relig- 
ion sparred with each other, holding very high regard one 
for the other, and together giving about the most interest- 
ing conversation of any two people in Cleveland County. 
They can regale each other or their listeners with tales of 
the old days and experiences they had with the same fami- 
lies fifty and sixty years ago. 

Then, as now, Medicine and Religion often went hand 
in hand. 

Dr. Lattimore recalls that one of the first trips he ever 
made with John Suttle was to New Prospect Church 
where he arranged for the young minister and himself to 
get an invitation for dinner at the home of one of his 

Everett B. Lattimore is the kind of doctor a preacher 
like John Suttle would choose for a family doctor. 

In 1954, he was selected not only as the "Doctor of the 
Year" for the State of North Carolina but was runner-up 
for the "Doctor of the Year" for the entire United States, 
elected by the American Medical Association for this dis- 
tinct honor. 

Professionally he has done everything and has been 
everything that a family doctor can do or be in his pro- 
fession, in the societies, and organizations concerning 
medicine. At the same time he has held the role of head 
of a family, medical advisor, counselor, and confidant in 
a marvelous way all these years. He has practiced medicine 
almost as long as John has served in the ministry and for 
every funeral John has preached he says, "I brought a new 
baby to take the place of the one John put away." 

His age and length of practice are reflected in the fact 
that only recently he delivered a baby four generations 
removed from the child he delivered the first year of prac- 

194 Canaan in Carolina 

tice in Cleveland County. That child was the great-great- 
granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. William Hoyle, pioneer 
residents of Cleveland County. He previously had deliv- 
ered their daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandson. 

Dr. Lattimore has been characterized as the "Dean of 
Physicians" not only of Cleveland County but of the State 
of North Carolina. All doctors who know him say he is 
an ideal "family" physician with the old ethics and the 
modern touch. He knows and loves people and remembers 
nearly everybody he ever knew or treated. He remembers 
what was wrong with them physically. More than that, 
he remembers their problems and worries, their special 
family traits and troubles. He is a born optimist and has 
endless stories, anecdotes, and illustrations to tell, spiced 
with a good sense of humor, for what in the present day 
might be called psychotherapy. He calls it common sense. 

An unusual coincidence about Suttle and doctors oc- 
curred in November, 1948, when Brother John had just 
been elected President of the North Carolina State Baptist 
Convention which was the same week Princess Elizabeth's 
baby was expected to be born in England. 

By some strange quirk of fate, the Associated Press 
switched the pictures of the little preacher and the inter- 
nationally known gynecologist, Sir William Gilliat. The 
caption under the picture of Mr. Suttle read, "The above 
man flew to England recently and is expected to deliver 
the Princess' baby in a few days." The caption under the 
picture of Sir Gilliat read that he was soon to preside at 
the annual session of the North Carolina State Baptist 
Convention in Charlotte. 

Needless to say, Brother Suttle took a great deal of rib- 
bing by his friends, but he hastened to explain that his 
gynecological abilities had been used only for assisting their 
household dog to have her puppies. 

In the 70's and 80's when John was growing up, there 
were few doctors, virtually no hospitals and the under- 

"I'm Living to Preach That Doctor's Funeral" 195 

standing and treatment of disease had improved very little 
since the dark ages. Home remedies were the rule. 

Children were subject to "joint rheumatism", "the 
bloody flux", milk poisoning, and "scrofula" which was 
pronounced, "scrofulow". The usual diseases were measles, 
mumps, whooping cough, chicken pox, and in addition, 
everyone was subject to typhoid fever, diphtheria, lock- 
jaw, and smallpox. 

Older persons were subject to "consumption" as tuber- 
culosis and lung cancer were called. If the disease was 
acute and severe, it was "galloping consumption". Pneu- 
monia was "pneumony fever", and pleurisy was "side 
pleurisy". Appendicitis was unknown and usually undiag- 
nosed but was thought to be a kind of "colic". Fall sores 
were "dew poisoning". Sinus trouble was "catarrh". 
Urticuria was the "bold hives". Almost any pain in the 
back was "the lumbago". 

John's mother, as well as her neighbors, had the usual 
stock of herbs and crude drugs. Yellow root, lion's tongue, 
liverwort, pennyroyal, for hot teas; onions and mustard 
for poultices, along with the inevitable castor oil, were 
among the many remedies. 

If the doctor was called, the patient almost invariably 
received calomel, a form of mercuric chloride. The dose 
was all that would stay on the end of the blade of the doc- 
tor's pocket knife. If the patient were a child, he used 
the little blade. Other remedies included all grades of alco- 
holic spirits from pure corn whiskey to peach and apple 
brandy, grape and blackberry wine or even locust and 
persimmon beer. Young babies were sometimes treated 
for dietary and vitamin deficiencies by giving them "pot 
likker". This was the juices left in the pot after a "mess" 
of vegetables or greens had been cooked. 

Many of the treatments had absolutely no reason at all 
to them but were based entirely upon superstition. One 
belief was that if a new born baby had its left foot dipped 
into new fallen snow, the child never would suffer the 

196 Canaan in Carolina 

In his boyhood, great medical wisdom was still attributed 
to the Indians. A vast number of the patent medicines 
found on the shelves in grocery stores and drug stores 
claimed that their products were of Indian origin. As a 
boy, he used to see with great interest and no little awe 
the traveling medicine man come to Shelby and other parts 
of the county to sell the "wonderful, wonderful, wonder- 
ful medicine". The driver of this one-man show either 
claimed to be an Indian or that he got all of his secrets 
directly from the Indians, and that it was the very thing 
to cure whatever was wrong with you. 

Most of such drugs were certainly fake so far as hav- 
ing medicinal properties, but they were not fakes in their 
effects. Some had mild laxative qualities. Others were bit- 
ters or stomachics and a few may have been mild stimu- 
lants. This was the generation when people believed that 
the worse a medicine smelled and tasted, the better the 
medicine. If it had a little alcohol so much the better, and 
some patients demanded more alcohol and less medicine. 

Every almanac that came out not only contained all the 
old remedies with "receipts" for making family medicines 
out of roots, barks, leaves, and berries, but had a few new 
ones each year which the housewife would try when an- 
other member of her family became ill. The drugs she 
did not have she would buy from itinerant peddlers who 
came around. Whatever the illness, there was always some 
use for lavender, oak of Jerusalem, thyme, feverfew, and 

Some of the commonest bitters were obtained from the 
yellow poplar, sumac, burdock, tansy, poke berry, jimson 
weed, rhubarb, dogwood and the inevitable red pepper. 
Bitters were routine for the treatment of dyspepsia. 

In the spring sassafras tea was brewed to "thin the 
blood" which as everybody knew had grown thick during 
the winter. Along with the tea nearly everyone got gen- 
erous doses of sulfur and molasses. For days and days 
everybody in the family was a little mill making hydrogen 
sulfide, which every high school chemistry student now- 

"I'm Living to Preach That Doctor's Funeral" 197 

adays recognizes as a harmless but very foul smelling gas. 

The bark of wild cherry, especially the wild black 
cherry and the slippery elm, was good for everything; 
either to drink as tea or to grind up and make a poultice 
for all sorts of wounds, swellings, sprains, and boils. Goose 
grease, sheep fat or lanolin rivaled the Indian's use of bear 
grease as an ointment. 

Rosin (especially fresh), distilled turpentine, and even 
kerosene were used for such things as sore throat, lumbago, 
and other forms of rheumatism. 

A tiny vial of hard-to-get distilled turpentine of balsam 
was highly prized as a treatment for "the gravel" and 
other forms of kidney trouble. It was peddled by the 
itinerants a few drops at a time wherever people would 
buy or barter for this product. 

May apple, commonly called "maypops", rhubarb, and 
alloes were favorite laxatives. Nearly every family had a 
little ipecac which could make a patient vomit. 

White people did not use them much of the time, but 
little John's colored playmates very often had a necklace 
of foul smelling asafoetida, or an amulet of a simple cop- 
per wire, a pierced dime, or even a silk sewing thread. The 
mothers believed that these items had the power to keep 
off disease, to protect the child from hexes, spells by 
witches, and to keep them normal. 

Even to this day a few of these pagan practices exist 
among the rural colored people of this section. 

Out in the small Negro house behind the Suttles' Blacks- 
burg home lived an old woman who was very sick. Mrs. 
Suttle asked one of the old woman's friends what was the 
matter with her and got the following reply: "Why, she's 
conjuhed! A lizza'd is undah de skin, an' hit keeps runnin' 
back and fo'th!" 

On one occasion John came near getting pneumonia in 
Johnston County when he was delayed by a severe sleet 
and ice storm. At that time he had plenty of hair, a full 
grown beard and long mustache. The wind blew his hat 
off and he did not have a lap robe, so when he arrived home 

198 Canaan in Carolina 

his hair, mustache, and beard were a solid mass of sleet 
and ice. 

In Johnston County it was almost impossible to get a 
doctor and many times when people were desperately ill 
they would send for the minister instead of the doctor. 
Brother Suttle never had studied medicine, and on one 
occasion when one of his member's babies had a severe case 
of croup with cold in the chest and throat, he did not 
know what to do. 

"I wouldn't have known what to do if it had been my 
own baby," but fortunately the family had an old doctor's 
book and Brother Suttle looked through it hurriedly and 
found that of the score or more treatments for croup one 
included placing ice water on the chest and throat. It was 
a cold winter night so he dipped a towel in a bucket of 
ice water and slapped it on the baby's neck and chest and 
after the initial shock and outcry, the baby soon began to 
breathe easier and in a few minutes was fast asleep. 

On one occasion in Johnston County when the family 
could not get a doctor, he had to stand by and watch a 
mother and baby die in childbirth and later assisted in 
burying them. 

Brother John says he always got everything that came 
around and was usually the first to get it except in the case 
of measles. He was in and out of measles many times as 
a boy and even slept with Brother Joe when he had the 
measles. After he was grown he merely passed a house 
where a case of measles had been quarantined, then came 
down with the disease. 

At Albemarle he became the sickest he ever has been. 
He thought he was going to die. He had what old people 
at that time called "cholera morbus" which is a severe, 
incapacitating diarrhea, probably what doctors now call 
food poisoning. He was treated by one of the good women 
in the community who used her favorite remedies of black 
pepper and vinegar in large quantities. While convalescing 
he was forced to eat soup and meat made from a peafowl. 

"I'm Living to Preach That Doctor's Funeral" 199 

He said this one was so old that even the gravy was tough. 

Mr. Suttle once was bitten by a snake but until this day 
doesn't know the variety or whether it was poison. He 
was washing his hands in a small creek when suddenly the 
snake reached up and grabbed his finger. He flung it off 
quickly and just about as quickly applied a good applica- 
tion of tobacco juice. The finger did not even swell. 

Brother John had to take great quantities of quinine to 
keep off malaria, and many times had a malaria chill while 
preaching or making his ministerial rounds. Quinine was 
taken either as a syrup or a capsule. As a syrup it was 
about the bitterest thing anyone ever tried, and the cap- 
sule was so big and bulky it was hard to swallow. 

John has always had a good relationship with doctors 
and has delighted to do as near as possible what the doctor 
advised. However, he was vaccinated four times for small- 
pox before it took. He recalls that several years ago he 
was preaching at Waco when a patient broke out with 
smallpox during the church service. He rushed right home 
and had Dr. Lattimore vaccinate him again since one of 
his great fears was that in all his public contacts he might 
bring home some strange disease to his wife and children. 

He recalls the pest houses which were in existence sixty 
years ago for the control of contagious diseases. People 
with smallpox or plague or other highly contagious dis- 
eases were confined to pest houses. In Shelby this was an 
old abandoned building back of the cemetery, and only 
a few of the bravest would venture to take the inmates 
some hot soup, fresh bread or a piece of meat. 

When he first came to Cleveland County after his tour 
of duty in the Mission Field, most of his patients either 
got well at home or died at home. There was no hospital 
closer than Rutherfordton although a few prominent 
Shelby people went on the train to Baltimore for acute 

Some of the doctors in Shelby included Dr. O. P. Gard- 
ner, who drove a two-wheel sulky and had an under-the- 
chin beard; Dr. W. P. Andrews, who was tall and stately; 

200 Canaan in Carolina 

Dr. R. H. Morrison, who had a long black beard; Dr. L. N. 
Durham, a dentist, and Dr. Bob Ware, a dentist. He recalls 
that at the age of thirteen, a dentist in Ridgeway, South 
Carolina, pulled a tooth for him by sheer force without 
benefit of anesthetic. 

Until after he retired from active work in the ministry, 
John spent very little time with doctors or in hospitals 
except to visit. However, he was bothered for many years 
with what the doctors called "trigeminal neuralgia" in the 
right side of his face. 

No one knows what causes the trouble but it is charac- 
terized by severe lightning-like pains over the side of the 
face, so severe that one cannot even call out in pain. It is 
almost paralyzing in nature. Dr. J. W. Harbison of Shelby 
injected the ailing nerve on several occasions and Brother 
Suttle got temporary relief. Dr. Harbinson removed a 
portion of the nerve after which he was relieved for sev- 
eral years. In 1942, it grew back and the pains were so 
severe he went down to Duke University Hospital and 
had the nationally famous neuro-surgeon, Dr. Barnes 
Woodhall, perform a more serious operation. 

Dr. Woodhall is even shorter and smaller in stature than 
Brother John. They teased each other a great deal about 
their size. Dr. Woodhall had to stand on a platform of 
wooden blocks to be able to reach the operating table. 

During the course of surgery he went through the skull 
to the outer edge of the brain and clipped the roots of the 
ailing nerve. "I can give you almost 100% assurance that 
you will never have another pain from that nerve in this 
lifetime," said Dr. Woodhall. From 1942 to 195 5 his pre- 
diction held. Not only that, but Brother Suttle's face on 
the right side was completely numb. "I cannot even feel 
when I shave on that side, nor can I tell when the wash 
cloth is hot or cold. I can't even taste food in the right 
side of my mouth." 

In the spring of 195 5 while in the Shelby Hospital for 
a checkup, an amazing thing happened. Brother John 
said one morning while eating, he accidentally shifted a 

"I'm Living to Preach That Doctor's Funeral" 201 

little food to the right side of his mouth and could taste 
it. Moreover, he said he could feel it. He examined him- 
self a little closer and was certain he could feel little prick- 
ing sensations in the right side of his face where there had 
been no feeling for thirteen years. "I may have to write 
Dr. Woodhall and tell him he has an exception to his rule." 
However, thus far, he has had none of the laciniating pain 
which used to occur. 

In his later years Mr. Suttle has had several light heart 
attacks or sinking spells. One of the most severe was an 
attack of angina on April 3, 1954, being a Saturday before 
a commemoration and anniversary celebration at Double 
Springs the following Sunday. He was in the bathroom 
shaving when a severe pain struck him in the chest, went 
up into his neck and out his left arm. 

It hit him so hard he said it felt like someone had stuck 
a needle through his chest and for a moment he could 
hardly stand on his feet. He had to lean against the wall. 
He began to fear that his doctor would not allow him to 
go to Double Springs the next day so he decided not to 
tell anybody. But to be sure that he was all right he did 
get out of the house by sheer will power and drive up town 
to see Dr. H. C. Thompson. 

Dr. Thompson and Suttle's son-in-law, Dr. Joe Cabiness, 
finally agreed to let him go to Double Springs for the com- 
memoration service on the condition that he would not 
speak too long and not try to preside. They felt that the 
worry and anxiety of staying at home, missing such an 
important service, would be harder on his heart and ner- 
vous system than to go and take part. 

In 1954, he had a mild heart attack and a period of 
depression which came from low blood pressure. During 
this time in the hospital, he very carefully made out the 
program for his funeral services, even down to the min- 
isters who were to speak, the songs to be sung, and the 
pallbearers. However, as he improved and was able to 
leave the hospital, he sealed this information in an envelope 
to wait until "it is a little more appropriate". 

202 Canaan in Carolina 

In 195 5, he entered the hospital again for a general 
checkup and a few days rest where it was discovered his 
hemoglobin was quite low; that is, he did not have enough 
redness in his red corpuscles. His blood, in fact, was pink 
instead of red. A few days later after receiving two or 
three pints of blood, he exclaimed, "I feel the best I have 
in months. This blood must have come from a strong, 
healthy woman. I not only feel good but I want to talk 
all the time. Not only that, I want to talk about some- 

Mr. Suttle always enjoyed new babies both in the home 
and at the hospital, and said that although the following 
story did not happen to him, he is quite in sympathy with 
the minister who told it. It so happened that the young 
mother had just come home from the hospital with a new 
baby. Her other child, a four year old, was playing in the 
yard. The minister came by to pay his respects and to 
see how the mother and new baby were doing and stopped 
for a moment to chat with little Johnny. 

"Johnny, it seems like I hear a baby crying in the house.'* 
"Yes," said Johnny. "And I guess if you didn't have any 
hair or teeth or couldn't walk and couldn't talk and had 
to get your dinner like he does, you would be crying too!" 

Brother John chewed tobacco for 65 years and finally 
quit because he thought it irritated his mouth. He told a 
story of one prominent minister in the eastern part of the 
state who was offered a cigar by another minister equally 
as prominent. The first one said, "Thank you, I don't 
smoke. I'm a Christian." The second minister said, "I am 
a Christian too, but I never let it make a fool out of me." 

This brings to mind the Suttle story which has been 
told on a minister, a professor of Campbell College, re- 
garding his use of tobacco. It was said that he was holding 
a revival meeting at Buies Creek and preached several 
strong sermons against the use of tobacco, that he labeled 

"I'm Living to Preach That Doctor's Funeral" 203 

the use of tobacco as both unchristian and at least unmoral 
if not immoral. 

The following week the Campbell College newspaper 
came out with pictures of tobacco and tobacco barns on 
farms owned by the minister, and with the blazing head- 
lines that he was going to burn up his barns and destroy 
his tobacco because surely, if it was unchristian and not 
moral to use it, he certainly would have no part in grow- 
ing it. However, college officials stopped circulation of 
the paper in time to save the minister too much embar- 
rassment, and the fact is, he never did burn the barns. 

Once a very timid young minister, the Reverend J. M. 
Kester, who later became a Shelby pastor, was helping 
John in a country church. They were to take supper with 
a certain family. During the day someone went to town 
to replenish the larder, and incidentally bought some 
Epsom Salts. It was put on the mantel. Supper was on 
the table but no sugar was in the bowl. One of the fam- 
ily, thinking the salts was sugar, filled the bowl. It was 
very innocently passed to the young preacher. He very 
generously helped himself. 

"Imagine his dismay when he tasted his coffee and found 
he had put two full teaspoons of salts in it! He was a 
good sport though and drank it and did not say one word," 
says Mrs. Suttle. "He slept very little that night." 

Mr. Suttle does not hesitate to call attention to a disease 
common to many of his members which he calls Morbus 
Sabbaticus or the Sunday Sickness. The idea probably was 
not original with him but he often told his congregation 
something like this: 

Morbus Sabbaticus is a disease that is peculiar to 
church membership. 

The symptoms vary, but it never interferes with 
the appetite. 

It never lasts more than 24 hours at a time. 

No physician is ever called. 

It always proves fatal in the end — to the soul. 

204 Canaan in Carolina 

It is contagious. 

The attack comes on suddenly every Sunday; no 
symptoms are felt on Saturday night, and the patient 
awakes as usual, feeling fine; eats a hearty breakfast. 

About 9:00 the attack comes on and lasts until 
around noon. 

In the afternoon the patient is much improved and 
is able to take a ride or read the Sunday paper. 


The Mystery Of The Midnight 

"Wonderful Story of Love." 

What God has joined together, 
let not man put asunder. 

Matthew 19:6 

"Brother Suttle, we want to get married." 

This simple statement and request has been made to 
Brother John almost 2,000 times in the past 65 years. That 
many times he has replied, "All right, when?" 

"Some of the most amusing, interesting, heartwarming 
and enriching experiences of my ministry have been with 
weddings and funerals," says John. This is one of the 
sidelines of the ministry, especially the rural ministry, in 
which the pastor never knows just what to expect. Always 
expect some unusual things. 

"No one is more human than when they get married 
or go to a funeral," he says. 

The first couple he married after his ordination to the 
ministry was in Blacksburg, South Carolina, in the early 
winter of 1891. He was staying at the Airline Hotel and 
at nineteen years of age still was unmarried himself, but 
was courting rather steadily. 


206 Canaan in Carolina 

It was bitter cold that December. About three inches 
of snow lay on the ground. 

"We want to be married outside on the sidewalk," the 
couple had insisted. "And we are in a hurry," they added. 
They had just run away and wished to keep on running, 
they admitted. 

The young preacher got his Bible, said the magic words 
and signed the necessary papers. The groom kissed the 
bride, handed the parson the half dollar in his hand and 
whisked the bride away. 

Just as they ran around the corner, Mr. Suttle heard 
steps pounding down the sidewalk from the opposite di- 
rection. "Have you seen my daughter and a young man?" 
he asked John. 

"You are too late. I just married them," said John. 

The father grinned a little sheepishly and said, "I don't 
much care if I am," and went on back to the house to tell 
the sorrowing mother of the bride. 

Since that first wedding John has married couples in all 
conceivable places and under a variety of circumstances. 
Ceremonies have been performed in the home, in church, 
in autos, in buggies, on the street, and in his own home. 

He has never married what is usually known in Ten- 
nessee or Kentucky as a "child bride" but has married girls 
as young as fourteen years of age. "Some girls are almost 
grown by then," he adds. On the other extreme of life, 
he has married couples who approached the Biblical three 
score and ten station in life. 

Three o'clock in the morning is the earliest he has ever 
been called up for a wedding. Ruth Wacaster of Waco, 
who was nursing supervisor at the Rutherfordton Hospital 
and whom he had baptized some years before, called: 

"Will you marry me to Tommy Toms at three o'clock 
in the morning?" It was war time and nurses were scarce. 
She would have only a short time off. 

"Why certainly," he replied. "Just come on to my 
house." Ruth and Tom came. Then Pastor Suttle thought 
of something. "We will have to have witnesses. Who will 

The Mystery of the Midnight Wedding 207 

be up at this time of night?" He thought of something 
else and made a telephone call. 

In about five minutes two big, burly policemen with 
guns at their hips and flashlights in hand were at the door. 

"What's the trouble, Preacher?" the leader asked. 

"No trouble at all," said John with a twinkle in his eye. 
"I just wanted to invite you to a wedding." The two 
policemen were the witnesses. 

One of the strangest requests for a wedding was to be 
married on a bridge. In the heart of Shelby, within a block 
of the court house, Sumter Street crosses over the Southern 
Railway. The overhead bridge is high, almost fifty feet 
above the tracks. "We want you to marry us on this bridge 
at nine o'clock at night. You face south and we will face 
north toward the Big Dipper and the North Star," they 

"That is where I married them. I didn't ask why, and 
they did not tell me. I suppose they must have had some 
sentimental reason, such as that being where they became 
engaged, or ventured the first kiss . . ." 

Some of the weddings have been a little less than formal. 
For instance, the one near El Bethel in Cherokee County 
a few miles southwest of Blacksburg. He had held a meet- 
ing there the previous summer and had been invited to 
come back for bird hunting. 

While going across the field hunting birds, he happened 
to pass a house where a large crowd of people was gath- 
ered. The house was sitting on top of a knoll, and there 
was a long winding lane running up to the house. In just 
a moment he saw a man come running across the field 
waving at him and gesticulating as if he wanted him to 
stop. He stopped, and the man came up to him insisting 
that he come on over to the house. 

"I'm on a hunting trip and I have this friend on down 
the road who is expecting me." 

"But we have a wedding we want you to perform. 
Preacher Moorehead was supposed to perform this wedding 

208 Canaan in Carolina 

but he could not come and we are ready for the wedding 
to start and can't find a preacher." 

So Brother Suttle, being willing to oblige, went on up 
the little red lane, entered the house and there he saw what 
he described as the ugliest woman he had ever seen in all 
his life. She was first, too old to get married; second, red- 
headed; third, had crossed eyes; and fourth, of all things, 
had on a dress that looked "fit to go to a tacky party". 
The dress had red bows, not of ribbon, but of calico on 
plain black cloth. The bows were fluffed and frilled in 
a manner to make her look like a witch. 

What astounded the young preacher was that just as 
soon as he had said the last words of the wedding ceremony 
and was about to bow for a prayer, the groom turned 
quickly to his readheaded siren and kissed her, then turned 
her loose so quickly that the parson did not even get to 
begin the prayer. 

He was told later that it was the custom in this com- 
munity for the preacher always to kiss the bride first and 
that this young swain had vowed that no preacher was 
going to kiss his bride before he did, so he kissed her before 
the prayer. 

"One of the nicest things about that wedding was it 
didn't last very long so I went on down to my friend's 
house and joined him for the hunt," said John. 

Mrs. Suttle has always been interested in the weddings 
John performed since he usually gave her the fees from 
the weddings. "That is the only income I have ever re- 
ceived from our married life," said Mrs. Suttle. 

"I remember when we lived in Johnston County, John 
went to the fair one day. There were a number of people 
from Smithfield and the surrounding country at the fair. 
One couple had bought their license to be married before 
leaving home and brought it with them to Raleigh and 
asked him if he would marry them on the fair ground. 

"They were very much disappointed when John told 
them that they had to be married in the county in which 
they bought their license. They decided to wait until the 

The Mystery of the Midnight Wedding 209 

next day. However, John thought a little and solved their 
problem by asking, 'When are you going back?' 

"The reply was, 'This afternoon.' 

" 'Well', he said, 'so am I. You get on the same train 
and we'll ride together and be married on the way to 

"They did just this, and as soon as the train rolled out 
of Wake County into Johnston County, all of the friends 
on the train were called together in the same car. John 
surprised them all by saying, 'Come on folks, let's go to 
a wedding!' 

"He performed the legal ceremony. Some of the men 
lifted the bride and groom up to the ceiling of the car 
and everybody was so excited that one man threw the 
groom's hat out of the train window." 

Again, Mrs. Suttle reported that one day a couple drove 
up while she was working in the yard and asked if the 
preacher could marry them. 

"I suppose so. Get out and come in." 

"No, we'll stay in the car." 

"He said, 'Well, sit where you are and I will talk from 
here.' John said to me, 'I figured that if they were that 
hard to move, once I got them hitched they would never 
get a divorce'." 

An amusing sidelight of a wedding is one in which he 
helped to tie the knot for one of his preacher brothers, the 
Reverend W. G. Camp, now pastor at Sandy Run Church 
in Mooresboro, North Carolina. 

Mr. Camp did not get married until rather late in life 
since he had to care for his mother and invalid sister. 
However, after the ceremony of a beautiful wedding, he 
was asked to kiss the bride, which he did. Mr. Suttle said 
he heard two women actually talking about it in church 
later after the service was over and the conversation went 
something like this: "The way he made a lot of noise, he 
must not have had any experience." The other woman 
said, "A preacher that can kiss like that must have had a 
lot of experience." Mr. Suttle delights in telling of this 

210 Canaan in Carolina 

conversation in the presence of Brother Camp. Even after 
telling this story they remain good friends. 

He performed the marriage ceremony of only two of 
his children, marrying Elizabeth to Mr. W. J. Erwin, now 
President of the Dan River Cotton Mills of Danville, Vir- 
ginia. He married Esther to Mr. D. R. Sibley, who is Vice- 
President of Aetna Life Insurance Company of Hartford, 
Connecticut. The other daughter, Bertie Lee, was married 
to Dr. Joe Cabiness by the late Reverend L. R. Pruitt of 
Boiling Springs and Charlotte. Mr. Pruitt was one of Mr. 
Suttle's closest ministerial friends and associates. 

Not all couples have complete presence of mind when 
they come to the very unusual experience of getting mar- 
ried. One nervous bridegroom was so anxious to get away 
after the ceremony, he excitedly shook hands with Preach- 
er Suttle and shouted, "And may ye have a merry Christ- 
mas and a Happy New Year". 

He reports that some of the worst troubles with nervous 
couples have been in the matter of holding hands. He said 
in a good many instances he has not only had to tell the 
parties to join their right hands but has even had to place 
one right hand in the other right hand. Apparently they 
were so excited or so concerned and so self-conscious that 
they did not know one hand from the other. 

He had a little difficulty with a couple on one occasion 
in which he asked the man to say whether or not he would 
take this woman to be his lawfully wedded wife and if so, 
to say, "I do". He asked him several times to say the 
necessary word and the good brother wouldn't say a word. 
Finally he did blurt out, "I do" in such a loud manner 
that Brother Suttle himself forgot what he was next sup- 
posed to say. 

Over in Marshall, John reported that he married a one- 
eyed man to a redheaded woman. The marriage lasted 
about two weeks. He later saw the man on the street and 
asked him what had happened. The man replied, "That 
was the meanest woman in the world. If I had had two 

The Mystery of the Midnight Wedding 211 

good eyes that day I believe I could have seen what I was 

Brother John has the distinction of having performed a 
wedding with the longest service on record. The wedding 
lasted from 8:00 o'clock one evening until around 10:30 
o'clock the following morning. 

It was in Louisville while he was a student pastor that 
the groom and his timid young bride came asking to be 
married. The wedding was at the bride's home. When 
they stood up to be married, John noticed the bride was 
a little nervous and pale but thought that was not too 

He asked the groom the usual questions to which he got 
the usual answers, "I do" and " I will". Then, when he 
turned to the bride to ask her the same questions, she 
fainted dead away and lay in an unconscious stupor from 
which she could not be aroused. 

The distraught family threw water in her face, rubbed 
her arms and legs and made her breathe spirits of ammonia, 
but to no avail. She did not wake up. A doctor was called 
and he could not wake her. 

Along about 12:00 o'clock that night the frantic groom 
sought out the minister and asked, "What sort of a fix am 
I in now?" Brother John replied, "So far as I can see you 
are married to her but she is not married to you." 

After a night's sleep, however, the bride felt better and 
insisted she wanted to go on with the ceremony. About 
10:30 o'clock, Brother John finished tieing the knot in 
what he thinks is the longest wedding ever held. 

He has never charged a set fee for performing a mar- 
riage ceremony and no couple has refused to pay him at 
least a little sum. The fees have ranged from 25 cents to 
as much as $30. Only recently a prominent business man 
in Cleveland County came up to John and handed him a 
$5 bill. He had promised to pay him 3 5 years ago when 
he was married and confessed that this was the first time 
that he had $ 5 extra. In fact, he only had 3 5 cents in his 

212 Canaan in Carolina 

pocket when he was married ; not even enough to finance 
the honeymoon immediately in front of him. 

John had been preaching in country churches nearly 
twenty years before anyone asked him to be married in 
church. Back in those days it was just not the custom to 
be married in church. 

In the first place, marriages and weddings had always 
been more of a private and personal nature, and the gen- 
eral public was not as much interested in the average wed- 
ding as now. Another reason for being married in some 
place besides the church was that the rural church was not 
a very delightful place in which to be married. The build- 
ings were poorly lighted; there was poor seating; it was 
hard to arrange a lovely wedding in such a place. There 
was very little heat. It was hard to decorate, and the bride's 
home or some friend's home was a much better place. 

It would have been very hard to light a large old wooden 
church building with a few small candles. Mr. Suttle still 
has the old candle molds about six inches long, three- 
quarters of an inch in diameter which his mother used to 
make candles for lighting the church house at Beaver Dam, 
but even the light from a hundred such candles would 
have been very poor for a wedding. 

Along the way Mr. Suttle picked up the proper clothes 
for marrying couples in any kind of wedding, whether in 
a church, in a home, on the street, or at the court house. 
He had his regular preaching suit. Also, a formal suit 
which was a Prince Albert "cut-away" with a top hat. 
Also, the claw hammer tails and a white tie, and an ordi- 
nary tuxedo suit. In addition, he has several different kinds 
of shirts with studs and cuffs and the conventional black 

One thing distresses Brother Suttle about the marriage 
of the present day couple. "That is the problem of divorce. 
I am told that one in four of all the couples being married 
in this day and time will end or has already ended in the 
divorce court," he said. 

"I do not believe my batting average is that bad. In 

The Mystery of the Midnight Wedding 213 

fact, I believe of the couples whom I have married in a 
church or who were married in their own home or at the 
home of a Christian friend, there are very few that will 
ever be broken by divorce. 

"Nonetheless, I do feel that the divorce problem is be- 
coming one of the gravest problems on the American 
scene. I believe the tremendous changes in the American 
way of life is one of the contributing factors. There would 
be fewer divorces now if the groom took his bride far out 
into the country into a remote home where they could 
work together, suffer together, play together, pray to- 
gether, and rear their family together, without the dis- 
tracting influences of modern civilization. 

"I think the time spent in building a home and cement- 
ing and solidifying the influences of Christian partnership 
certainly are necessary elements in making a marriage per- 

There would be fewer divorces if young couples in this 
day and time would retain the romance and flame of 
youthful ardor as Mr. Suttle does for his bride. For ex- 
ample, on their fiftieth Wedding Anniversary John went 
to the florist and ordered fifty golden roses. He didn't ask 
the price or try to bargain. 

"I want the finest ones you can get to give to my wife." 
He then noticed that the florist hesitated and said, "Well, 
Brother John, that's over four dozen roses and these roses 
are $3 a dozen." 

"I don't care how much they cost. If they cost $3 for 
each rose, I want fifty. You may think a poor country 
preacher can't pay for them, but I will buy them if I have 
to sell something. I want to give them to my wife. Any 
woman who will put up with me for fifty years deserves 
a golden rose for each year she has done it." 

Mrs. Suttle got the roses. 

Only a few of the weddings Mr. Suttle has performed 
have been amusing, interesting, or one might say, unusual. 
As a rule, the ceremony joins together two of the fine 
young people who met in one of his churches and who 

214 Canaan in Carolina 

knew him and respected him and wanted him to share the 
high point of their lives by uniting them in the ceremony 
of marriage. 

The first couple he married in Cleveland County was 
Mr. Fields Young to Miss Nina Lowery, who later became 
the parents of some of Cleveland County's most prominent 
business men and who at the present time are prominent 
laymen in Baptist work in the Kings Mountain Associa- 
tion. They are Fields, Jr., Carlos and Lamar Young of 

"There has been little change in the marriage laws ex- 
cept for the fact that we now require physical examina- 
tions and blood tests. In fact, there has been little change 
in marriage throughout all these years. It is still essentially 
a man and woman agreeing to agree all the rest of their 
life and signing a contract to that effect. It also carries a 
deeply religious significance, and I think when we lose this 
religious significance we lose a lot in the institution of 


A May Funeral For A 
December Demise 

"Nearer My God to Thee" 

O Death, where is thy sting? 
I Corinthians 15:55 

John has presided at more funerals than weddings since 
it always takes two at a wedding and usually one at a 

He is at his very best at a time of crisis when death has 
entered a home. In the first place, he usually has known 
the family, has known their circumstances, their ups and 
downs, their vicissitudes, their characteristics and person- 
alities, and he knows just what to say that will make them 
feel better at such a time. 

He usually has a verse of Scripture, perhaps a whole 
passage of Scripture which he can quote by heart; a kind 
word, something of encouragement, and always a cheery, 
friendly smile ; a little pat on the shoulder with an admoni- 
tion that death comes to us all, that it has a real and true 
meaning, and that there is always something beyond. 

He was always called upon to participate in the funeral 
of his own members, but he was so widely known, so ap- 


216 Canaan in Carolina 

proved universally, and so liked in his county, that other 
ministers and members of families have called upon him 
from time to time to take part in funeral services of mem- 
bers of other denominations. His prayers and his abilities 
to say just the right thing at the right time, not too much 
or not too little, have characterized him in an outstand- 
ing way. 

"Even funerals have changed a lot during the course 
of my ministry," Brother John says. "In the old days all 
the coffins were black. They were pointed at the ends 
when people could afford a sure enough coffin. Time was, 
however, when we didn't even have coffins but buried our 
dead in plain pine boxes. A shroud, which was a heavy 
cloth sewn together, was used to wrap the dead. 

"It was pretty hard on a preacher in those days because 
he was expected to drive his horse and buggy to the resi- 
dence of the man and then to the church and back home, 
or perhaps to see some of the sorrowing relatives. A funeral 
would take a full day's time. 

"Nowadays, we have paved roads and fine ambulances 
or hearses to carry the body. They are put away in such 
nice caskets with such beautiful floral arrangements that 
death is not so horrible or terrifying as it was in the old 
days. Undertakers have made death and dying much 
easier. Doctors and hospitals have relieved much of the 

"Death is just as real now as it was in the old days, and 
the separation can be just as final, but I believe we are 
making some improvement in a Christian approach, with 
more color, with more appropriate services and with better 
music and in having undertakers to handle a great many 
of the details." 

One morning in May 1900, a man appeared at the par- 
sonage door. He said he was from the country near Smith- 
field and that his mother had died in January. The weather 
was too bad to conduct the funeral then, so he wanted 
John to preach it the first Sunday in May. John readily 

A May Funeral for a December Demise 217 

consented, knowing that there were no paved roads and 
not a very well kept road of any kind. 

Imagine his surprise when he got there to be asked to 
preach the funeral of a granddaughter of the deceased. 
John replied, "I did not know the child had died." 

The man said, "She died the first year of the Civil War." 

John told the father he thought it best not to mention 
the child as he would not recognize it, if it could appear 
again to him. 

He has been called upon to assist in services for the high- 
est and lowest men in Cleveland County. Some of the very 
poorest tenant farmers have had his services. He also 
assisted in the funeral of the late O. Max Gardner, the 
county's most illustrious citizen and his own cousin, who 
died in New York of a heart attack just before he was to 
sail for England as Ambassador to the Court of St. James. 
Thousands of men of state and national prominence came 
to Shelby to hear the little preacher give one of the finest 
descriptions of and tributes to a son of this county. 

Again, he preached the last rites of Thomas Dixon, nov- 
elist, minister, author, lecturer, and playwright who had 
given birth to the idea of "The Birth of a Nation", a movie 
put on the screen by the late D. W. Griffith which had 
thrilled more people than any other movie, until another 
southern masterpiece, "Gone With the Wind", was shown 
to millions of fans. 

Even the somberness of death and all its attendant sor- 
rows could not keep John Suttle from telling a funny story 
about it. One of his favorites is about the two women 
who were talking about their husbands who had passed 
already to the great beyond. 

"What did your husband die of?" inquired one. "Well, 
I don't rightly remember," answered the other. "It was 
so long ago. As I remember he just stopped breathing." 
The first one responded, "Oh, well, my husband didn't die 
that way at all. He breathed right up to the very last." 



I Honor My Fathers And Brothers 
In The Ministry" 

"Faith of Our Fathers" 

I must be about my Father's business. 
Luke 2:49 

Nothing is more amazing about Brother John than the 
company he has kept. His fathers and brothers in the 
ministry have been of the highest caliber. As he let gen- 
erous portions of his mantle fall upon sons in the ministry, 
perhaps it was in no small part due to the fact that he 
inherited generous portions of great mantles from the 
prophets who preceded him and were his contemporaries. 

Brother John was born into the company of a great 
number of tall, stalwart, stately, and saintly men in the 
ministry who, at the time of his birth, were carving out 
a wilderness in Piedmont North Carolina. In those dark 
and dreary days following the Civil War, many of the 
people had nothing to turn to except religion. Their crops 
were gone, many of their farms and homes were gone, and 
in so many homes sons and fathers were gone. Faith in 
God and their once-a-month meetings at the community 
church, along with an occasional visit of the minister into 


"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 219 

the home, and their daily prayer and Bible reading made 
up most of their religious practice. 

As these mighty men of religion rode horseback or drove 
a buggy from one community to another in Cleveland and 
Rutherford counties, John Suttle and his family became 
acquainted with most of them. His grandfather, Elder 
Joseph Suttle, had cut the pattern. First of all, Joseph was 
a dedicated man; a minister inspired to preach the gospel, 
who was called to go mainly into the rural churches to 
preach and teach and hold fellowship with the brethren. 

John does not remember his grandfather. No doubt, the 
stories told to him by his family left a stamp upon the 
young man, and he was greatly impressed by the fact that 
by the time grandfather was 34 years of age, he was one 
of the most prominent ministers in Western North Caro- 
lina. He was pastor of the church at Double Springs and 
one of the leaders in the movement to found the Kings 
Mountain Association, which was organized at his church 
in the fall of 18 50. 

He died of typhoid fever, a premature and untimely 
death, on May 26, 1861, and the following inscription 
upon his tombstone shows what a man he must have been: 
"Of the public virtues and services of this good man it is 
unnecessary to speak. His liberal and unaffected hospital- 
ity, his singular moderation and equanimity are well 
known, and held in pleasing but mournful remembrance. 

"None was more illustrious in life, none was more happy 
in death. He left this world cheered by his benediction of 
his church, to whom he left the inheritance of his fame 
and the memory of his bright example; and was born to 
that world where the pure in heart meet their God." 

Joseph Suttle was buried at the Suttle family cemetery 
on the home plantation about five miles west of Shelby on 
land now owned by his great-grandson, J. L. Suttle, Jr. 

More about the character of this remarkable grandfather 
is recounted in an article by J. H. Yarboro which was 
printed in the Mountain Eagle, a Shelby paper, a few days 

220 Canaan in Carolina 

after the death of Elder Suttle. The article is found in 
the appendix of this book. 

The minister who wrote the eulogy to Joe Suttle was 
one of the best educated preachers in Cleveland County. 
It is said that he spent a great deal more time than most 
ministers in study and that his interest in obtaining an 
education was so great, he rode a mule 225 miles all the 
way from Shelby to Wake Forest College to get an edu- 

He was the first college trained pastor in this section. 
It is said that on the way to Wake Forest he stopped at 
the home of some well-to-do merchant in central North 
Carolina, and this man was so impressed with his earnest- 
ness and zeal and desire to preach the gospel that he gave 
him a substantial sum of money to continue his education. 

Aside from his grandfather, the man who looms tallest 
in the mind of John Suttle as "THE PREACHER" was 
the Reverend G. W. Rollins — born August 7, 1828, in 
Cleveland County, North Carolina. Mr. Rollins was not 
only the first preacher he ever heard, but his family and 
friends referred to him often and praised him many times. 
He spent the night in the Suttle home several times while 
John was a child. 

John recalls Mr. Rollins as a middlesized man, a very 
earnest speaker, a man who was so intent upon what he 
was saying he would allow himself to get out of breath, 
and then would suck in a new supply while he was com- 
pleting a sentence. Nonetheless, he was forceful, effective, 
and successful not only in making friends, but in winning 
converts to the Cause. 

At one time he served as moderator of the Sandy Run 

He later had a son, G. W., Jr., who preached in many 
churches in this section. Mr. Rollins married a Padgett of 
Rutherford County and was the grandfather of the Rev- 
erend D. W. Digh, now pastor of Bethel Church in Shelby. 

"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 221 

Undoubtedly, the most colorful, persuasive and flam- 
boyant minister who impressed John Suttle while he was 
young was the Elder Thomas Dixon, first moderator of the 
Kings Mountain Baptist Association. He was nominated 
to this office by Joseph Suttle, and his popularity was so 
great that during the ensuing years he was moderator for 
nine other terms. He was born December 24, 1820, in 
York County, South Carolina. 

It is not generally known that Elder Dixon had a trag- 
edy attend his early ministry. He shot and killed a promi- 
nent physician near Shelby. Apparently it concerned 
some jealousy between the two men regarding Elder Dix- 
on's wife. The story is that he was traveling north from 
Shelby on the Shelby-Fallston road where he went to hunt 
some squirrels. He had a small rifle with him. He was 
accompanied by his son, Clarence. On the way they sud- 
denly noticed the physician, who had threatened his life 
on several occasions, standing behind a tree, apparently 
making an attempt to way-lay him and shoot him. 

Elder Dixon, who had an eagle eye and a good aim, 
whipped out his squirrel rifle and got in the first shot. 
The grand jury never brought in a true bill and no indict- 
ment papers ever were served upon him because of the 
evidence of young A. C. Dixon who was only a child at 
that time. He told the judge and solicitor a very straight- 
forward story of how it happened, and apparently Elder 
Dixon was acting in his own self-defense. 

Elder Dixon built a fine home near Buffalo Creek just 
south of the New Prospect Church where he was pastor. 
This home has been torn down for about twenty years 
and has been replaced on the same spot with a very nice 
home in which the Cline family now lives. 

The story is told on old Preacher Dixon that he was 
crossing a river and got stuck in the mud. He couldn't 
get the mules to pull the wagon out, and the old colored 
man who was driving tried his very best to get them to 
pull it out. 

Finally he told the parson, "If you'll let me cuss 'em, 

222 Canaan in Carolina 

I believes they'll make it." Whereupon the Elder said 
softly, "Well, Mose, just do as you like. I'll walk on up 
the road a little piece." The mules came out quickly. 

He had the reputation of being one of the smoothest 
moderators in North Carolina and if he were presiding, 
Associational business went along on time. Brother Suttle 
says that is where he got part of his inspiration for running 
a meeting smoothly and on time, and he always tried to 
do that in all his meetings. 

Some evidence of Dixon's popularity is evidenced by the 
fact that he was pastor of the New Prospect Baptist 
Church for 56 years, the longest term of ministry in one 
church of any person in the Kings Mountain Association 
and possibly a record for the entire State of North Caro- 
lina. He had from twelve to fifteen great sermons and 
preached them over and over, many times adding one new 
sermon per year. 

He was married to Miss Amanda Elizabeth McAfee of 
near York, South Carolina, who came from a family of 
very brilliant ancestors. Some people have said that the 
Dixon children inherited their great brilliance from their 
mother but Brother Suttle says Elder Tom was brilliant 
in his own right. 

Elder Dixon was a leader of leaders. He was keenly 
intelligent, well educated, a selfmade man with a tongue 
and wit as sharp as a two edged sword, and was a minister 
of such unquestioned character and possibility that he sel- 
dom met his match in the pulpit or public debate. 

Dixon, Sr., was one of the most striking ministers ever 
to appear in a pulpit in Cleveland County. He was tall, 
slender, handsome, and had piercing eagle eyes which 
could look straight through his congregation or any person 
to whom he was talking. He kept his hair well trimmed 
and wore a chin beard which was trimmed and pointed. 
He was always neatly dressed, a born orator, a forceful 
speaker, and an unusually talented scholar, politician, 
trader, real estate investor, and a great judge of human 

"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 223 

One of his most famous expressions was, "He is a wishy- 
washy milk-of-cider sort of Baptist". This expression he 
used to described Baptists who had departed from the 

Elder Dixon was an excellent business man. He traded 
considerably in real estate and for a long time operated a 
general store in Shelby where he bought and sold cotton 
and cotton goods. He was a student of political economics 
although he never ran for office. 

Apparently he passed this privilege on to his son, Tom, 
Jr., who ran for office and represented Cleveland County 
in the State Legislature before he himself was old enough 
to vote. 

The first time he heard Elder Dixon, John went with his 
father to hear him deliver the charge at an ordination of 
a young preacher. He reported that the preacher who 
preached the sermon spoke for an hour; then a second 
preacher who delivered the Bible preached for nearly an 
hour. When Elder Tom Dixon got up he said, "My young 
Brother, preach the Word. Preach nothing but the Word, 
but preach the whole Word," and then sat down. 

Elder Dixon had a very keen mind and also had the 
good sense and judgment to use such a short speech as a 
rebuke to the long winded preachers who had taken up 
most of the meeting time. 

One of the most famous of Elder Dixon's sermons was 
on "Gideon's Band"; another was about the Israelites 
crossing the Red Sea and also one about David and Goliath. 

Elder Tom was the father of Thomas Dixon, Jr., nation- 
ally known author and playwright whose claim to fame 
was the great novel, The Klansman, which was the basis 
for the later great movie, The Birth of a Nation. He was 
one of the most prolific and forceful writers North Caro- 
lina has ever produced and perhaps his fame will be more 
enduring from his writing. 

Brother Suttle heard young Tom deliver his first poli- 
tical speech before he was 21. He campaigned for the 
legislature and was elected before he was 21 years of age 

224 Canaan in Carolina 

but did not go to the assembly until after he had passed 
his 21st birthday. 

Mr. Suttle remembers well his electrifying oratory and 
the brilliance portrayed when he wrote and presented a 
play based upon the book of Esther. He and a former 
Shelby resident, Mr. Audie Rudisall, gave it in Shelby and 
at many other places over Western North Carolina. 

After the end of his career in Raleigh as clerk to the 
Federal Court judge, Tom Dixon, Jr., was buried in Shelby 
and Mr. Suttle assisted at his funeral. 

Another son, Amzi Clarence, perhaps was the greatest 
minister of all, having filled a number of important pas- 
torates and later filling the pulpit of the "incomparable" 
Spurgeon in the Tabernacle at London, England. He was 
born July 6, 1854, in Shelby, North Carolina. He was 
graduated from Wake Forest College and continued a 
study of theology in Greenville, South Carolina. 

The story is told on the brilliant A. C. Dixon that he 
once went to his father, Elder Tom, for advice. Young 
Dixon had received a call to an important pulpit in Balti- 
more at approximately three times the salary he was get- 
ting in a North Carolina church. 

This son was a great preacher but had not developed the 
astuteness in financial affairs attributed to his father. Elder 
Tom is reported to have told him, "Amzi, I believe if I 
were you, I would accept the call. Where there is more 
money, there is bound to be more sin." 

Frank Dixon, among other things, became governor of 
Alabama. Daughter Delia, known as Dr. Delia Dixon 
Carroll, was one of the pioneer women physicians in North 
Carolina and was for many years attending physician at 
Meredith College. A younger sister, Miss Addie Dixon, 
has been known nationally as a writer and teacher. 

The Reverend G. M. Webb — born November 14, 1831, 
in Rutherford County, North Carolina — was known 

"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 225 

among his friends and ministers as Uncle Milt. He was 
the father of two of the most famous judges Cleveland 
County has produced. They were Judge James L. Webb 
of the Superior Court bench and Judge E. Y. Webb of 
the Federal bench. He also had two other sons, the late 
George and Charles Webb. 

Mr. Suttle remembers the Reverend G. M. Webb as a 
stout man with heavy shoulders, strong, imposing, a leader, 
and a man of very strong conviction. He was a Baptist 
and a Democrat and did not hesitate to speak his convic- 
tions about the doctrinal features of the Baptist Church 
and about the saving principles of the Democratic party. 

One of the first meetings which Brother Suttle helped 
in outside of Cleveland County was at the Long Creek 
Baptist Church in Gaston County where Brother Webb 
was pastor and was holding the annual revival meeting. 

The Webbs were somewhat related to J. W. Suttle since 
both his grandmothers were Blantons, and the Webbs were 
closely related to the Blanton family. Webb's wife and 
Mr. Suttle's Grandmother Wray were sisters. Pastor Webb 
was clerk of the Kings Mountain Association in the years 
1867 through 1872 inclusively. 

In spite of the fact that the Reverend G. M. Webb had 
only a small amount of formal education, he was a self- 
made man and educated himself. He saw to it that all his 
children had a Christian education. 

Elder Dove Pannell, who was on old man when John 
was a little boy, was remembered mainly as the very im- 
portant preacher who gave the introductory sermon at the 
organization of the Kings Mountain Association of which 
John was to be moderator for forty years. He saw this old 
gentleman only a few times while he was young but he 
heard his parents and other ministers tell what an influ- 
ential man Dove Pannell was in the new Association. 

Not only was he a minister, but he was a soldier in the 
Civil War and a Civil Magistrate after the war. He was 
especially prominent in leadership of the temperance 

226 Canaan in Carolina 

movement in North Carolina and was highly regarded for 
his abilities as a diplomat to compromise the disagreement 
of good people with regard to the use of making or drink- 
ing alcoholic beverages. 

The title for Elder PannelPs most notable sermon which 
he preached in 1851 before the Kings Mountain Associa- 
tion was, "The Hour is Come". 

Dove Pannell had a younger brother, Martin Pannell, 
who for many years was associated with the Beaver Dam 
Baptist Church. He had less ability and was not as much 
a leader as Dove but, nevertheless, was a good man and 
made lasting impressions on John, whose first religious ex- 
periences were at Beaver Dam. 

John R. Logan was not a minister but a layman and a 
Deacon who was one of the most important figures in the 
early history of the Kings Mountain Association. For many 
years he was clerk of the Association and was the author 
of "Logan's History of the Broad River and Kings Moun- 
tain Baptist Associations". These historical and biograph- 
ical sketches cover the men and events from 1800 to 1882. 

He was a man of very strong convictions and positive 
beliefs and in his writings he describes very accurately the 
men and women of his day and time and portrays their 
weaknesses as well as strength. He would criticize even 
the best of ministers for any personal habit which he 
thought a Christian ought not to indulge in. For instance, 
he was highly critical of the use of tobacco by Dr. A. L. 
Stough, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Shelby. 

He was the father and grandfather of two of Cleveland 
County's best known sheriffs. The old Logan homeplace 
is about three miles south of Shelby on the Sulphur Springs 

The Reverend Phillip Ramsour Elam was one of the 
older preachers in the Association who impressed young 
John. He was a Civil War hero, having been a lieutenant 
in his company and after severe fighting at Gettysburg, 

"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 221 

had spent nine months in a federal prison. He was not 
only a man of the soil and a tireless worker, but was also 
one of the earliest missionaries for a new movement called 
the Sunday School. Elam believed that in addition to 
preaching, church members must study the Bible and other 
good books in order to be successful evangelists and to 
make their church more effective in the community. 

Elder Baylus Cade was an outlander. That is, he was 
born in some place outside North Carolina; perhaps Vir- 
ginia. Mr. Suttle remembers him as a very large, portly, 
250-pound, very handsome man with the typical aristo- 
cratic dress of sideburns. 

He was a fine scholar and influential speaker and was 
so much of a book worm he was virtually an encyclopedia. 
Great numbers of people would invite him in to their 
homes just for the privilege of hearing him talk and of 
asking him questions about everything from religion to 

The content of his mind was so voluminous that many 
times he seemed to be dogmatic especially in the pulpit or 
in a debate at the Associational meeting. However, when 
he was outside the church merely talking with the breth- 
ren, he was said to be as tender and sympathetic as a 

Brother Suttle asked Baylus one day why it was that 
when he went into the pulpit he developed such an atti- 
tude of animosity and belligerence. He replied, "John, it 
is not that at all. It is just that I am so desperately in 

The Reverend J. D. Hufham not only was a minister 
of prominence in Cleveland County, but he was highly 
beloved in all of North Carolina. For a time he was pastor 
of the First Baptist Church in Shelby and later was a 
member of the faculty of Wake Forest College. For many 
years he was an officer in the Baptist State Convention. 

He was known throughout North Carolina as being 

228 Canaan in Carolina 

slightly eccentric and became widely known as the "walk- 
ing Delegate". 

"At every meeting of the Baptist State Convention and 
at many of the Associational meetings old Brother Hufham 
could be seen walking up and down the aisles around the 
auditorium or back of the pulpit; sometimes with hands 
folded behind him as if bound, but always walking. None- 
theless, he was an eloquent leader of the denomination and 
at one time was editor of the Biblical Recorder and was 
editor of that paper during the Civil War when it was 
burned by the Yankees. Even though his paper was burned 
and he was forced to stop writing for a time, he always 
remained an unreconstructed rebel," says John. 

It was said that he was highly active in politics in old 
Scotland County shortly after the Civil War. On one 
occasion they were trying to carry an election to disfran- 
chise the Negro. The Yankee Carpetbaggers had set up 
election machinery and had urged all the Negroes to vote. 
Brother Hufham reputedly went from one ballot box to 
another urging the citizens to get out and vote saying, 
"Let's carry the election boys. Carry it honestly if you 
can, but carry it." 

The Reverend A. C. Irvin is a man who perhaps can 
best be described as the saintliest minister ever to preside 
over a congregation or to attend an Association in the early 
Kings Mountain days. 

The late Dr. Hufham was attending a meeting of the 
Kings Mountain Association with Brother Suttle when 
Mr. Irvin came in immaculately dressed, with a pointed 
beard, finely combed hair, delicate features, saintly smile, 
and walked down the aisle. Hufham said to Brother Suttle, 
"No man can be as good as Abe Irvin looks like he is." 

But he was a fine moderator, an excellent preacher, and 
perhaps was one of the most genuinely loved ministers 
ever to live in this section. He became the father of Jim 
Irvin, Pink Irvin, John Irvin, and Miss Ollie Irvin who 
married Dr. John Wood of Boiling Springs, N. C. 

"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 229 

Reverend A. L. Stough was a German-born immigrant 
who had quite an accent but who was also a great scholar. 
He was pastor of the First Baptist Church in Shelby when 
Brother Suttle was a small boy. He was criticized con- 
siderably by the Elder J. R. Logan for using tobacco. 
However, in spite of his tobacco chewing, he was so pop- 
ular that a good many people in Cleveland County were 
named for him. Among those are Stough Wray, Stough 
Beam, Stough Lattimore, and Stough Hendricks. 

To begin with, Elder Stough was educated for the Cath- 
olic priesthood but in Norfolk, Virginia, he was converted 
and baptized in 1847. He studied theology with Dr. 
George Purefoy for two years and then began to preach. 
Among his duties as a member of the Kings Mountain 
Association he became moderator of this body in 1879. 

Along with his criticism of using tobacco, Elder Logan 
had to admit that he was an able minister. "Let Elder 
Stough, therefore, take the lead in a well directed crusade 
against the use of the 'sweet-scented poisonous plant of 

lrginia . 

The Reverend J. M. Bridges was known as "Big Mun" 
in contra-distinction to the Reverend B. M. Bridges who 
was known as "Little Mun". This particular J. M. Bridges 
was born and reared in the Lattimore section and was at 
one time pastor of the Pleasant Ridge Church. In fact, he 
led in the organization of that church. He was related to 
a great number of the Bridges in western Cleveland 
County and was an uncle of Mrs. D. G. Washburn. 

John remembers "Big Mun" as being a very earnest 
preacher who had a habit of preaching so hard that it 
became necessary for him to suck in his breath, sometimes 
sucking so hard that one could see the veins sticking out 
on his neck. 

Dr. B. W. Bussey, a popular minister, was a native of 
Georgia, an excellent preacher, and baptized John Suttle's 
brother, Joe. 

230 Canaan in Carolina 

Brother John also remembers a Dr. Willis who was presi- 
dent of the Shelby Female College and who was a very 
imposing, energetic and influential minister. 

The Reverend R. L. Limerick was one of the ministers 
who officiated at the ordination of Brother Suttle. He was 
pastor of the Shelby First Church and had formerly been 
a machinist. He turned to preaching but did not take up 
the full ministry until later years. 

Dr. W. A. Nelson was pastor of the First Baptist Church 
in Shelby. He was a large man. On one occasion he was 
baptizing Colonel Reuben McBrayer who was also a very 
large man. When they both got into the pool at the First 
Baptist Church and Dr. Nelson immersed Colonel Mc- 
Brayer, the water overflowed out of the baptistry and 
came down in sheets over the pulpit. 

The people smiled when this happened but they still were 
very much in love with Dr. Nelson. Although a native 
of Georgia, he became one of the most popular preachers 
ever to live in Shelby. 

One of Mr. Suttle's keenest memories of great preachers 
is of the renowned Evangelist, Reverend Sam Jones. Jones 
was a Methodist but his services were highly attended when 
he came to this section to preach. 

One of the illustrations Mr. Suttle remembers was Sam 
Jones' vivid description of the drunkard who was happy 
only when he was hilariously drunk, who lived in a hovel, 
whose children were naked and his wife in rags. He plowed 
an ox and thought he had bought the Kingdom of Heaven 
when on one occasion he gave $f to the church. 

One of the institutions which is no longer in existence 
was that of an old country store in Shelby located at the 
present site of the Cleveland Hardware, operated by a Mr. 
Canady Barnett and a Mr. Edmund Lovelace. Mr. Barnett 
operated a type of grocery store and Mr. Lovelace had a 
machine and harness shop in the same building. 

"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 231 

Every Monday a large group of people, including most 
of the ministers of the city, would gather around Canady 
Barnett's stove or out in front of the store and discuss 
problems of the past Sunday. They would swap yarns and 
fuss and argue over theological points and from time to 
time would accomplish some real good purpose. 

John noted that at these old country store gatherings 
there was considerable jealousy among the ministers; one 
of the main reasons being on account of an annual church 
election. Preachers were not elected for life but just for 
a year. Neither were they "called" as Baptists now under- 
stand the call of a preacher. 

Occasionally one minister would underbid the other and 
agree to preach at some certain church for a few dollars 
less than he knew one of his religious brothers had agreed 
to preach for. The average price paid for a salary at a 
rural church in that day and time was seldom over a hun- 
dred dollars and on many occasions was considerably less. 

Preachers had to make up for this lack of income by 
following some other occupation, the most common being 
farming, although several operated a grocery store or a dry 
goods store, and some few had a trade such as carpentering, 
brick masonry, or machinist. 

Brother John has been personally acquainted with every 
minister of all faiths who has come to this county the last 
three generations. He has been especially well acquainted 
with Baptist ministers since he was moderator of the Asso- 
ciation and present at all meetings of any importance. 

More than a hundred Baptist ministers, both active and 
inactive pastors in Cleveland County, now consider him 
the unofficial "dean" of ministerial gatherings. 

Most of the ministers who were his associates and yoke 
fellows in the heyday of his most active career have either 
died or moved away. The Reverend W. A. Elam, who for 
many years was vice-moderator of the Kings Mountain 
Association, died in a traffic accident at his home in Frank- 
linville several years ago. Other ministers who were quite 
prominent in rural work before their deaths include the 

232 Canaan in Carolina 

Reverend D. F. Putnam who was at Beaver Dam for a 
number of years and who was the Association's best known 
new church organizer in his time; Dr. C. J. Black of 
Bessemer City, who was a historian and author of note; 
the Reverend I. D. Harrill of Lattimore who represented 
a long line of preachers and teachers; the Reverends Rush 
Padgett, W. E. Lowe, D. G. Washburn and B. P. Parks. 

Brother John always smiles when he recalls a trip to the 
mountains, which was probably a meeting of the Conven- 
tion in Asheville, when he and Dr. Zeno Wall, the Rev- 
erend D. G. Washburn, and one or two others had a brush 
with the law. 

"We were coming down the mountain, and swinging 
the curves caused Brother Gordon Washburn to become 
car sick," explains Brother John. "He stuck his head out 
the window both to get relief and to get fresh air. In the 
meantime, he lost his false teeth. We stopped and walked 
back up the mountain and looked all along the road for 
nearly a half mile but never did find those teeth. A high- 
way patrolman came along and queried us about the mat- 
ter and we explained that there was nothing wrong, that 
we were all preachers and one of us had lost his teeth. The 
patrolman looked at us as if he didn't know whether to 
believe us or take us all to jail." 

Senator Lee B. Weathers says Brother John is not the 
kind of preacher about whom the following story is told. 
It seems this popular but very strict and orthodox Baptist 
preacher in a poor country church noticed one Sunday 
morning that among his hearers was a rather worldly but 
somewhat eccentric resident of a nearby town. 

After the sermon was over the visiting eccentric shook 
hands with the country preacher and exploded, "Parson, 
that was a damn good sermon." Whereupon the good 
little man chided his guest, "I appreciate your saying so, 
but I have always insisted the church is no place for pro- 
fanity or swearing." 

"I thought it was a good sermon and I still think so," 

"I Honor My Fathers and Brothers in the Ministry" 233 

the visitor added. "I thought it was so good I put a hun- 
dred dollar bill in the collection plate." 

"The hell you say," ejaculated the minister. 

Cameron Shipp, a native of Lincoln County — former 
news editor of the Shelby Daily Star and now a writer of 
international fame in Hollywood — used to tease Brother 
John thus: 

"I would not quote any swear words to a preacher like 
you but I wanted to tell you the difference between a 
modernist and a fundamentalist. The modernist says, 
'There ain't no hell,' and the fundamentalist says, 'The hell 
there ain't' 

.» " 


My Sons In The Ministry 
Honor Me" 

"Tell Me the Old, Old Story" 

Go ye into all the world 
and preach the gospel to every creature. 

Matthew 16:15 

A grain of wheat, when planted in the fall, sometimes 
will produce thirty, sixty, or even a hundred new grains 
of wheat the following summer. The Bible is very clear 
about this rate of reproduction and also is careful to note 
that the best soil, the best management, and the best wheat 
make the best crop. 

If we count John Suttle's "Sons in the Ministry" along 
with Christian workers and those who have dedicated 
themselves to full time Christian service or who have gone 
to the Mission fields or are preparing themselves to go, we 
find that his little grains of wheat sown along the way 
during the past 65 years are not only producing thirty 
and sixty fold, but even a hundredfold. 

Ten or more of these hundreds of workers have become 
outstanding in state and southwide importance in Baptist 
work either as ministers or as leaders in Christian Educa- 
tion or in Missionary enterprises. There has always been 


"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 235 

something about this little man in the pulpit to attract 
young people and to inspire some of them to want to be 
preachers and teachers and to follow some line of Christian 

Consider what happened to a little freckled faced boy 
in the town of Benson in Johnston County in the year of 
1905. His people were Primitive Baptists. They had not 
been very enthusiastic about his going to Sunday School 
or coming under the influence of John Suttle, who then 
was preacher at this little Mission church. 

William C. Royal was one of 3 5 persons baptized in a 
mill stream that day. Just as the minister took the group 
down into the water, he asked the Lord that one of the 
young men in the group be called to the Ministry, if it 
were the Lord's will. 

"From that moment to this day I have never had any 
doubt that Brother Suttle's prayer was my call to preach 
the Gospel of Christ. How many times I have been dis- 
couraged and defeated! Then my memory goes back to 
that prayer and a new strength and direction comes into 
my life." Thus speaks the Reverend William C. Royal, 
pastor of the First Baptist Church of Frederick, Maryland, 
and former president of the Maryland Baptist State Con- 

After Brother Suttle had prayed that day and the can- 
didates were baptized and re-dressing out in the woods, 
little Royal said, "Tell me what I ought to do in our 
church." The young minister told the little boy he did 
not know of a great number of things he could do except 
to come to church regularly. Then he happened to think 
that the church had some new hymn books, so he appoint- 
ed the small boy to be chief in charge of stacking hymn 
books. He relates that the boy did it so perfectly that it 
was a joy to see him stack the books. 

Young Royal still wanted to do more in the church and 
asked the pastor if there was not something further he 
might do. So the minister asked him one night to lead in 
prayer. When the time came to stand up and pray, Royal 

236 Canaan in Carolina 

said hesitatingly, his mouth very dry, "O Good Lord," and 
failed to finish out his sentence. He stuttered and stam- 
mered with his face turning red and his neck swelling. 
His eyes filled with tears and finally he sat down in dismal 
failure. However, Mr. Suttle reports that a wave of spir- 
itual power swept over the little meeting from that failure 
of his prayer and a second failure to explain why he could 
not pray. From then on a genuine revival broke out not 
only in the church, but in the entire community and it 
was a very successful revival meeting. 

In retrospect W. C. Royal says of his teacher and pastor 
and Father in the Ministry, "In the many years I have been 
a pastor I have heard many great preachers: John H. 
jowett, George W. Truett, J. L. White, Gilbury Laws, 
E. Y. Mullins, but to my mind and heart, the greatest of 
them all is John W. Suttle." 

From baby sitting to gathering a million dollars has been 
the range of activities of Horace Easom of Shelby as he 
has served Baptists of North Carolina for over a half cen- 
tury. As a small boy, Horace Easom took care of the 
children in the home of the Suttles when John was pastor 
of the little church at Smithfield. 

"I thought if anything happened while John was away 
at one of his speaking engagements I could put little Hor- 
ace out one of the back windows and let him go for help 
while I was fighting off the intruders," says Mrs. Suttle. 
Luckily that never happened. 

Since he first came under the influence of John Suttle 
in those early days, Horace Easom has had a most brilliant 
career as Minister of Music, Director of Education, Pas- 
tor's Assistant, Secretary of Brotherhood and Executive 
Secretary of the North Carolina Baptist Foundation. 

Mr. Easom says, "Through the years I have been in con- 
stant touch with Brother John. He has had as much influ- 
ence over my life as any other living man. It was he who 
was the first Minister to ask me to hold a revival meeting 
in one of his churches. Up to that time I had been only 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 237 

a song leader. Since he started me off and gave me confi- 
dence I have held scores of revivals in various parts of 
North Carolina." Mr. Easom has been director of educa- 
tion and music at Southside Baptist Church in Wilming- 
ton, First Baptist Church of Asheville, First Baptist 
Church of Shelby, and for a time was at the great First 
Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. 

His biggest money raising job was that of raising one 
and a half million dollars through the churches for the 
re-location and enlargement of Wake Forest College at 

However, most of the people who know Horace will 
remember him most often for his work as educational 
director for the First Baptist Church of Shelby, and being 
a part of the team of Wall and Easom. He was assistant 
to Dr. Zeno Wall, who for four terms was president of the 
Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. 

Easom's work was no less brilliant than Dr. Wall's but 
was of a different nature. He directed the choir and the 
educational program. He is an organizer without peer. 
He can get anybody to agree to do anything and then tell 
them how to do it. He is an eternal optimist. If he ever 
becomes discouraged with his work anywhere his deacons 
and workers never know it. At Shelby he complemented 
Dr. Wall at every turn. Dr. Wall fired the big Gospel 
Guns and Mr. Easom made the surveys, timed the firing, 
directed the barrel and did the mop-up operations to make 
the barrage successful. Dr. Wall was the dynamo to help 
God furnish the power and Mr. Easom turned on all the 
little lights. The Wall and Easom story would make an- 
other book. 

Says Mr. Easom of John Suttle, "I think he is one of the 
greatest Christians of his day because he is so good, sin- 
cere, and always has believed, preached, and practiced the 
simple Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of my most vivid 
recollections is how he told us stories of the Bible and the 
time honored stories of Uncle Remus when I was a little 

238 Canaan in Carolina 

"One of my earliest and most important impressions of 
him was the way he fought the liquor traffic in Johnston 
County; fearlessly, never wavering, using every oppor- 
tunity to give a testimony about the harmful effects of 
alcoholic beverages." 

Jasper N. Barnette of Nashville, Tennessee, is not a 
preacher; however, there are few preachers, teachers, or 
speakers of any kind in the bounds of the Southern Bap- 
tist Convention who can hold an audience better than he 
or tell them more in half an hour when Mr. Barnette is 
asked to make a speech. 

He is one of Brother John's boys. He was discovered 
first at South Shelby and later moved back to the country 
to his home church at Double Springs where he started a 
meteoric career as a Sunday School specialist, leader, and 
trainer of workers in Sunday School Enlargement and the- 
ory. At present he is retiring secretary of the Sunday 
School Department of the Baptist Sunday School Board 
of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

When John Suttle came to Double Springs in 1918, 
Jasper Barnette had been married to Edna Hawkins only 
a short time. He was a young farmer trying to make a 
living raising cotton. In the early days just following 
World War I this was pretty hard to do. 

Jasper had a pair of little yellow mules which he hooked 
to a "gee-whiz" and guided them with small cotton plow 
lines. He was known as one of the best operators of a 
gee-whiz in the community. His insatiable interest in 
Sunday School work soon proved to the Association and 
to the state that he could do that kind of work even bet- 
ter than he could plow cotton. 

At Double Springs in 1917, J. N. Barnette became 
Superintendent of the Sunday School which had only six 
classes, 173 members, and no classrooms. A men's class 
was meeting outside under an oak tree in good weather 
and not at all when it rained. He soon made rooms with 
curtains, graded the classes, added over a hundred members 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 239 

to the Sunday School and led the way for the church to 
erect a new building at a cost of approximately $30,000. 
When his work closed in 1921, the Sunday School had 
attained the A-l Standard and had laid the ground work 
for attaining the Double "A" Standard rating in 1922 
which was reached under the leadership of A. V. "Wash- 
burn, Sr., and Fred E. Greene. 

Double Springs then had the honor of being the first 
rural Sunday School in the Southern Baptist Convention 
to attain this rating and was the only one to hold it for 
five consecutive years. 

E. L. Middleton, who then was Sunday School Secretary 
for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, wrote 
and asked Brother Suttle if he knew anyone who could 
take over Sunday School work for the entire state and go 
from one part of the state to another in the role of general 
agent or field secretary, teaching study courses and organ- 
izing new Sunday Schools. Mr. Suttle wrote him back that 
J. N. Barnette was the man and that "no one church in 
the state or in the south is big enough to hold him." 

"Mr. Middleton sent me a questionnaire about two feet 
long with numerous questions in regard to Jasper Bar- 
nette's qualifications. I didn't even fill it out but just 
wrote on the margin and sent the blank questionnaire back 
saying, *I told you he could do the job'." 

About a year later, after Mr. Barnette had been to 
Raleigh as well as all over the State of North Carolina, 
Middleton saw Brother Suttle and shook his hand with a 
grin and said, "You were absolutely right. He is a marvel." 
Indeed, he was such a marvelous organizer, speaker, and 
leader that before long the Sunday School Board at Nash- 
ville had asked him to come up higher into the job as 
Southwide Sunday School worker. 

John Suttle likes to tell this story on Jasper: He had 
come by his little farm one day when Jasper was pulling 
the bell cords through the harness of the two little yellow 
mules in front of the gee-whiz and said, "Jasper, it looks 

240 Canaan in Carolina 

like we need to build a new church." Said Jasper, "Well, 
I'm sure we do Pastor, but Edna and I had been figuring 
on building a house. It looks like this old one of ours is 
going to fall in if we don't repair it or build a new one." 

The pastor said, "Well, the Lord needs a new house too," 
and Barnette added, "Well, I think we can wait." From 
then on he left no stone unturned until the new church 
building was under construction. 

One day while construction was proceeding it suddenly 
developed that the foreman told the pastor that the brick 
masons would have to stay out a day or two unless they 
could get more brick. The brick were in a box car on the 
railroad siding, but it was a very busy season. All the 
farmers were working in their crops and there was no one 
to haul brick. The pastor mentioned this dilemma to Jas- 
per who told him, "You go back to the church and tell 
the foreman not to dismiss the brick layers. The brick 
will be there." After dark, when he had finished cultivat- 
ing the cotton, he took an old kerosene lantern, opened 
the boxcar, and with his two little yellow mules and a 
small farm wagon, began hauling brick, whistling and 
singing at the same time. Some of the neighbors heard 
him out at the railway station and found out what he was 
doing; they, too, got their wagons and small carts and in 
a few hours all the necessary brick were at the church so 
the work could go on unhampered. 

Both Brother John and J. N. Barnette compliment each 
other very highly. 

Says Suttle of Jasper, "Except for grammar school and 
a short course in a music school in Virginia, Mr. Barnette 
had no formal education, but this is not to say that he is 
not now an educated man. His career of self-teaching, 
self-education, consecrated study and dedication is one of 
the most thrilling stories I know." 

His thirst for knowledge continually made him borrow 
books, read all the commentaries and attend meetings of 
all kinds connected with church and Sunday School, until 
soon he knew more about the Bible and about the growing 

f f 

a 'i * 


iJty • Jtei 

IT ' ; 'j 

p I 


1 ' «J1 


y r- *, 

Mrs. Suttle and 2,000 Pitchers 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 241 

Sunday School movement than any other man in North 
Carolina. Then from 1921-1927 he was Associate in the 
Sunday School Department of the Baptist State Conven- 
tion of North Carolina. From 1927-193 5 he was Asso- 
ciate in the Sunday School Administration Department at 
Nashville where he served under the Sunday School Board's 
renowned Arthur Flake. From 1935-1943 he was Secre- 
tary of Field Promotion of the Sunday School Board and 
since 1944 has been its general Secretary of the Sunday 
School Department. 

In addition, he is editor of the Sunday School Builder, 
the department magazine, and also is author of several 
books in his field. He has written numbers of articles and 
pamphlets about teaching and training, organizing, and 
building a Sunday School. 

Says Barnette of Brother John. "He is dedicated to his 
task, intelligent, eager, plans well, and works very hard. 
The whole record of his life has been that of unselfish 
Christian service. Through the years he has cultivated a 
pleasing manner, a delightful personality, a regard and 
interest for others. He has a good word for everyone. He 
is free from ill speaking. His modesty is worthy of wide 
imitation. He has tried earnestly and has succeeded glori- 
ously in making many friends. He is full of generous sym- 

D. P. Brooks, now of Raleigh, and a native of Double 
Springs, used to be the champion slingshot shooter of his 
community. He was short, small, freckle faced, wiry, and 
about the size of the pastor who baptized him. 

He is Associate Secretary of the Sunday School Depart- 
ment of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention and 
has held pastorates in the Chowan Association where he 
was also Missionary. 

"Brother Suttle has meant a great deal to me and has 
been a constant source of wonderment. To try to write 
it in words is much harder than talking about it," he says. 

"One of the things which has impressed me deeply about 

242 Canaan in Carolina 

Brother Suttle is his ability to laugh at himself. He never 
takes himself too seriously. When one is as small as he is 
physically, he is usually sensitive about it. I know! 

"I have never seen him embarrassed by his size. He 
jokes about it and seems almost to make an asset of it. He 
takes the same objective attitude toward other things. If 
he is criticized, he does not seem to be troubled in the least. 
He can joke and laugh about it without getting steamed 
up. I remember his preaching once about the matter of 
criticizing people. He confessed that people sometimes 
criticized him. With all mock solemnity he said that he 
was just sorry for such people who had the nerve to 'criti- 
cize me'. 

"Another thing which has amazed me all my life is his 
self-control and freedom from worry. When I asked him 
how in the world he could serve seven churches he joked, 
'It is because I am so big and robust.' Then seriously he 
attributed it to the fact that as a young man he discovered 
that his rather delicate health would not permit him to 
worry. If he was to do his work, it would be necessary 
for him to learn how to do it with a minimum of strain 
and without worry. He succeeded in achieving this rare 

"Nothing ever seemed to worry him day or night. He 
said that when he laid off his clothes at night, he laid off 
every worry and was asleep in a few minutes after retiring. 

"It is not accidental that a number of boys from his 
churches have entered the ministry. He expected they 
would and prayed for it and invited them to consider it. 
My grandmother said that on the night I was baptized at 
the age of ten, Brother John prayed that the Lord would 
call a preacher from among the newly baptized boys. 
When one of us did decide to enter the ministry he offered 
every possible encouragement and support. 

"He has always given us opportunity to preach in his 
pulpits and then made it a point to put some money in 
our hands. He gave an encouraging handshake! 

"Not the least important factor in his success was the 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 243 

fact that he never preached more than thirty minutes, 
usually about twenty." 

Brooks tells this story about John Suttle but does not 
identify himself with it. On one occasion a college student 
stopped in to see the pastor before taking the train to 
school. When he was leaving, Brother Suttle said, "Where 
is your top coat?" The boy said that he never wore a top 
coat mainly because he did not have one to wear. In a 
moment the pastor put his own top coat on the boy and 
he went out into the January weather fortified against the 
snow and cold. Not only was he willing to give his coat 
but his cloak also; to walk not only the first mile but to 
add the second mile. 

Brooks and Suttle are about the same size. 

Mrs. John Wacaster of Waco, North Carolina, is a field 
worker for this state in the Woman's Missionary Union. 
She has been under the influence of John Suttle almost all 
her life. When she was a very young woman she knew that 
she must serve the Lord in some special way. She had only 
a high school education, but like some of the other mem- 
bers in Suttle's churches, taught herself under his direction. 

At Waco she was under his leadership for 2 1 years. "He 
created in me a desire to do, to serve, to give, and to go. 
He lifted new horizons for me and through his vision I 
was able to see the world and its needs. He showed me how 
I could have a part in God's world plan. 

"Whatever small thing I have been able to accomplish 
I would give the credit to my pastor who molded me, 
guided and directed me for twenty years." 

Mrs. Wacaster was president of the Associational 
Woman's Missionary Union, then became a regional leader 
and finally was called to lead the work over the entire state, 
which position she has held for many years. Also, she was 
a member of the Board of Trustees of Gardner- Webb Col- 
lege for fifteen years. 

The score of the baseball game in a cow pasture not far 

244 Canaan in Carolina 

from Beaver Dam Church was going against the home 

"Let Nolan pitch," said one of the boys. So Nolan 
Patrick Howington took the ball, shifted the chew of to- 
bacco from his left to the right cheek, clamped down on 
it, took a squint at the plate and delivered the pitch. In 
a few moments there were great cheers. He had struck 
out the batter, then another and another and won the 
game. Whether in baseball or in the pulpit, Dr. Howing- 
ton has been striking out batters ever since. 

Dr. Howington is a former pastor of the First Baptist 
Church of Little Rock, Arkansas, and now Professor of 
Preaching at Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky. 
He was born in Georgia but when the boll weevil forced 
immigration from Georgia to Carolina shortly before 
World War I, his parents moved to Cleveland County 
where Nolan attended Boiling Springs and Lattimore High 
schools, Gardner-Webb Junior College and Wake Forest 
College. He then did graduate work at Wake Forest and 
later took his degree at the Southern Baptist Theological 

Nolan felt the call to the ministry at the age of six and 
since that time has been preaching. He went to Little 
Rock from the South Knoxville Baptist Church after a 
number of pastorates in North Carolina. He is a member 
of the Executive Board of the Arkansas Baptist State Con- 
vention, a Trustee of Southern Seminary, a Trustee of the 
East Tennessee Hospital, and a Mason. 

"From the practical point of view, John W. Suttle was 
my 'Father in the Ministry' to whom I owe a debt too great 
to discharge. For me he was and is an ideal and model 
and one of the best informed teachers I ever knew. My 
gratitude for his influence, kindness, fatherly helpfulness, 
and counsel cannot be expressed in words. I pray God I 
may perform half as worthily as he did in the active min- 
istry. Though short of stature, he will always cast a long 
shadow over my life." 

About his tobacco chewing baseball manners, Nolan 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 245 

said, "I didn't feel too bad about chewing tobacco because 
I knew my pastor took a chew occasionally and I got from 
Brother Suttle some mighty good ideas about fair play and 
about playing the game hard whether I won or lost." 

Nolan began looking for lost people when he was very 
young. One of his twin brothers — Hugh, of the twin com- 
bination Hugh and Hoyt — became lost late one afternoon 
and was not found until the next day. This was quite an 
experience for young Nolan who was around eleven years 
of age at that time. He walked up and down the fields, 
looked in the honeysuckle vines, tore his clothes on 
brambles and briars as they searched all night for the miss- 
ing twin. More than a hundred neighbors and friends 
joined in and finally found the little four-year-old shortly 
after daylight the next morning. 

Only a year or two after this experience Nolan respond- 
ed to the call to preach and even though only in his early 
teens, often went to the big woods below his home and 
practiced preaching to the residents of the woods. He 
gained quite a reputation as a "boy preacher" and was 
especially honest, sincere, forthright, and convincing in his 
manner of preaching. 

While overseas as a chaplain in the Army, Howington 
wrote his former pastor, "Every day that I live I am in- 
debted to you, my Father in the Christian Ministry. When- 
ever I preach, your long shadow falls across my pulpit to 
bless it and make it more holy. You can never know how 
much you mean to me nor how much your life and reflec- 
tions have contributed to my ministry. As Paul once said 
of his choice Christian friends, *I thank my God upon 
every remembrance of you'." 

Nolan wrote his pastor again in August of 1954 when 
Brother John was expecting to end the 65 th year of his 
ministry. He had just helped him in two meetings at 
Double Springs and Beaver Dam. "You were certainly 
kind to let me come back and preach in those beloved 
churches. My preaching was poor enough but I certainly 
enjoyed the fellowship with you and the people. I wish 

246 Canaan in Carolina 

I could tell you in words how much you mean to me per- 
sonally and how much your Christian spirit and your kind 
heart have blessed and guided me across the years. 

"I know these closing weeks of your ministry are not 
easy. Please do not feel that your work will terminate 
September 30, 1954, for your influence will live on in the 
lives of many young preachers and in the lives of those to 
whom you have ministered across the years. You will 
continue to be a source of strength and a power for Christ, 
for you are one of those individuals whom God uses all the 
days of his life." 

While Pastor Suttle and his friends were building the 
new church at Double Springs in 1920, a little eight-year- 
old boy was running around from one place to another 
taking a great deal of interest in all that was going on. He 
was curious and mischievous and was quite interested in 
the deep trenches where the foundations were poured, and 
later investigated the huge furnaces which were being 
installed to heat the building. 

The workmen had left some protruding pieces of metal 
sticking up out of the floor. 

A. V. Washburn, Jr., was in a hurry. He decided to 
jump over the objects. Instead, he was impaled upon the 
metal with pieces of it sticking in his legs. Both legs were 
dangerously cut. 

He not only received those scars at Double Springs but 
he received a number of other very permanent, important, 
lasting, and valuable impressions about what a country 
church could be and do; what a rural pastor and superin- 
tendent of a Sunday School could be and do, with nothing 
but people with which to begin. These impressions he has 
carried along with leg scars to the length and breadth of 
the Southern Baptist Convention. A. V. Washburn, Jr., 
at the present time, is Secretary of the Sunday School De- 
partment of the Sunday School Board. In this capacity 
he has gone into thousands of churches and communities 
in the South stressing better methods of teaching and 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 247 

training not only in rural churches but in the largest 
churches in the land. 

At the age of nine he was converted and was baptized 
by Brother John at Double Springs. Later he attended 
Gardner-Webb Junior College, Wake Forest College, and 
has done postgraduate work at Southern Seminary, Pea- 
body College, and Southwestern Seminary. For a time he 
was Associate Secretary in the Young People's Depart- 
ment. Then from 1943 to 1945 he served with the United 
States Navy. After returning to Nashville, he became 
Secretary of Teaching and Training, which position he 
held until his recent promotion. In college he was a campus 
leader, a member of the College Honor Society, and was 
graduated magna cum laude. He is author of numerous 
magazine articles and more recently of one of the Board's 
study course books entitled, Young People in the Sunday 

A. V.'s interest and ability in Sunday School work was 
due in no little part to the general climate at Double 
Springs because there not only Brother Suttle and Jasper 
Barnette had laid the ground work for good rural Sunday 
Schools, but his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. V. Washburn, 
Sr., had been interested in good Sunday Schools. His father 
had followed Barnette as superintendent in 1922 and had 
led the unit on to the Advanced Standard and maintained 
it for five years. 

Mr. Washburn, Sr., then became a Sunday School Mis- 
sionary in the Haywood Association with Sylva, North 
Carolina, as headquarters. He later moved to Goldsboro, 
North Carolina, where he and his wife were active in 
Goldsboro Baptist Church and where Mrs. Washburn be- 
came an approved southwide worker for Sunday School 
and Extension Work. Both have now retired and live in a 
new home in their old community. 

From the vantage point of a high hill in Palestine, 
Emmett Willard Hamrick surveyed the scene. Below him 
to the right and to the left, in front and behind, were 

248 Canaan in Carolina 

nearly all the scenes which were familiar to Jesus as He 
walked over those dusty roads nearly 2,000 years ago. 

Hamrick was there as a member of the research team 
of the American School of Oriental Research doing some 
post-doctoral study and investigation. 

He not only looked over the city of Jerusalem which 
had evoked the tears of Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane, 
the Sea of Galilee, the little village of Bethany, and the 
imminence of Calvary; but he also looked over the years 
back across the Mediterranean and the broad Atlantic, the 
expanse of the Carolina and back to his little home in 
Cleveland County where he was born. He looked back to 
the experiences he had had in the Beaver Dam Community 
where he had come under the influence of John W. Suttle. 

"I could not begin to describe the extent of Mr. Suttle's 
influence on my life," said Dr. Hamrick. His education 
began in the church where Suttle was pastor, although 
his formal training began in a little three teacher school 
building, later the Lattimore High School. He was a mem- 
ber of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of North Caro- 
lina and later took his doctor's degree from Duke Uni- 

Following his formal education he had three years with 
the United States Army and since that time has been Asso- 
ciate Professor of Religion at Wake Forest College. He is 
a member of the National Association of Biblical Instruc- 
tors, a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and 
Exegesis, as well as a member of the American School of 
Oriental Research. 

In 1943 he was married to Miss Shirley Philbeck, beau- 
tiful and talented musician who first learned to play the 
piano in a Suttle Sunday School. 

Joseph Wheeler Costner, a farmer of the Double Shoals 
Community in Cleveland County, was tired. The day was 
hot, humidity was high and his pair of mules had been 
unusually ornery that morning. At forty years of age he 
did not have the willingness and the strength he had pos- 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 249 

sessed when he was younger to wrestle with ornery mules. 

"Wrestling with mules was the least of my problems 
that morning. I was wrestling with the Lord," Wheeler 
told his friends later. "I just didn't see how I could answer 
the call to preach. I had no education, my family was 
growing, and I just didn't much believe a church would 
call me even if I told them the Lord had called me. 

"I came in, sat down and turned through the Bible to 
read a little. I don't know why but my eye fell on the 
passage in Judges which described how Gideon had put 
out a fleece to test the Lord. I had read the passage many 
times and was familiar with the story, but that day I read 
it over and over again and decided that I, too, would put 
out a fleece. 

"The next day I went to Shelby. I had challenged the 
Lord that I would accept the call to the ministry if any- 
one spoke to me about becoming a preacher on that little 
trip to the county seat. I had no idea it would be men- 
tioned. However, I went into the office of the Shelby Daily 
Star and was talking to the reporter about a news item for 
the Kings Mountain Association. 

"We talked a little about routine matters and then the 
reporter happened to mention the untimely passing of the 
Reverend J. M. DeVenny and the stroke of paralysis suf- 
fered by the Reverend D. G. Washburn. Then he looked 
me square in the face and said, 'Someone will have to take 
their place. Had it ever occurred to you, Wheeler, that 
you ought to be preaching the Gospel?' That was enough 
'fleece' for me. I went on back to Double Shoals and the 
following Sunday asked the congregation to license me." 

The congregation issued the license and within seven 
days Wheeler Costner got a call to preach at a small coun- 
try church called Pisgah at the foot of the Casar Moun- 
tains. Costner had been a business man, a teacher, a deacon 
and Sunday School worker as well as a farmer. He became 
Associational Sunday School Superintendent under the 
tutelage of John Suttle. His interest was heightened in 
Religious Education after a visit to the Kings Mountain 

250 Canaan in Carolina 

Association by Mr. Gainer Bryan of the Sunday School 
Department of Georgia. 

His record as superintendent of the Kings Mountain 
Associational Sunday School was enviable. This Associa- 
tion became one of the leading Associations of the entire 
South in the number of study awards and Standard Sun- 
day Schools. 

Costner had had little formal education except high 
school and business college training, but every chance he 
had he took ministerial refresher courses at Gardner-Webb, 
Mars Hill, and Duke University preacher schools. Most 
of his education, however, came by self-teaching and mas- 
tery of the complete set of study course books offered by 
the Sunday School Board. He has been a member of the 
General Board of the Baptist State Convention. In 1920 
he was married to Miss Cora Lee Canley, and they have 
four children. A hobby for spare time is the study of 
photography, for which he has a state license. 

Of John Suttle he says, "In him I discovered a pastor 
who not only was interested in the salvation of lost souls 
but was interested in his members yielding their lives to 
complete service for God regardless of the vocation they 
had chosen. 

"His preaching is always expository and extemporane- 
ous, arrayed with the most beautiful and challenging 
homiletics. He teaches by example; he is courageous in 
his convictions, gentle in his discipline, and always weeps 
with those who weep and rejoices with those who rejoice." 

When Mr. Costner broke the news of his decision to 
enter the ministry to his pastor, Brother John said, 
"Wheeler, I have been waiting for more than two years 
for you to tell me. I have no questions to ask." 

George Leland Royster had left the church at Double 
Shoals as soon as the service was over. He had a long way 
to go and a three mile walk on a sand clay road would 
require over an hour for his bare feet to convey him home. 

He did not mean to be a hitchhiker but Pastor John 

"My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 251 

Suttle picked him up anyway. "I'm going right by your 
house and riding in a buggy is easier than walking." 

Leland looks back upon that three mile buggy ride as 
the highlight of his Christian experience. As a child he 
longed for the opportunity to be around John Suttle. 

"To me he was the greatest person I ever knew. I looked 
at him and found him to be so much like the person I 
knew as Jesus. I thought how fine it was to be a preacher 
and wondered if some day I might not also preach. His 
talk that day started me to thinking what I ought to do 
with my life. 

"While I was studying for the ministry I was called 
upon on one occasion to meet all of Brother Suttle's ap- 
pointments at New Bethel, Double Shoals and Lawndale. 
I had to preach five times in one week. Since then I have 
been convinced that any young minister would appreciate 
him more if he could make rounds with him or follow in 
his footsteps." 

Royster went on to become a very successful minister 
in preaching, teaching, Religious Education and music. 
He is now Minister of Music and Education at the High- 
land Baptist Church in Hickory, North Carolina. He has 
been a member of the General Board of the Baptist State 
Convention, a Lion, and an active leader in other com- 
munity interests. 

It was midnight at the Suttle home in Shelby. The door- 
bell rang and waked John. He lay still a minute thinking 
that he had only dreamed the bell rang. The second and 
third time it rang he got up and went to the door. 

"Brother Suttle, I hope you will forgive me for coming 
to your home at such an hour denying you of the sleep 
and rest you have earned, but I have a problem on my 
mind and felt I must talk to you about it." 

"Come in and sit down, Olin," said Brother John. And 
in the early hours of the morning he listened to Charles 
Olin Greene tell him how he had been impressed to enter 
the ministry but that he had fought the call and tried to 

252 Canaan in Carolina 

persuade himself that it was a passing fancy; that even 
though he had already finished high school he did not have 
the money to go to college, especially with a wife and child 
to support. 

"If the Lord wants you to preach, he will find a way to 
take care of you and your family until you can get an 
education," John told Olin. So another one of his preacher 
boys went to Wake Forest and since then has been one of 
the most successful ministers in rural work in North Caro- 
lina. C. O. Greene has been marked as a leader since that 
midnight visit with Brother Suttle. At Pineville he was 
statistician for the Mecklenburg Association and president 
of the Ministerial Conference. In Raleigh he was moder- 
ator of the Raleigh Association and President of the Region 
IV Baptist Training Union Conference. In the Kings 
Mountain Association he has been both vice-moderator 
and moderator of the Association and president of the 
Pastor's Conference. He is a member of the General Board 
and Executive Committee of the North Carolina Baptist 
State Convention and is chairman of the State Missions 
Committee. He is chairman of the Fruitland Institute 
Advisory Committee and a member of other important 
committees for convention activities. 

"When I had this great decision to make for my life, I 
went to John Suttle because I knew he was a great man. 
He is great because of his humble faith in God, his belief 
in the Gospel of Christ as the hope of a lost world, his 
simple preaching of the Word, his love for people, his un- 
common sense, his keen sense of humor, and his spirit of 
helpfulness. It was his messages that had challenged me 
and brought inspiration. It was he who married us, who 
rejoiced with us when our babies came, who sorrowed with 
us when we walked through the shadows, who ordained 
me as a deacon, who counselled and prayed with me that 
stormy night. He has been my friend, supporter, guide, 
confidant, as well as my Father in the Ministry. 

"Of all the many things I can say about Brother John, 
I believe the thing that stands out about him and his work 

u My Sons in the Ministry Honor Me" 253 

is an uncanny ability to see through most problems which 
arise in a church. Then, to decide what ought to be done 
and to see it is done in such a way as to further the work 
of the Kingdom and leave the people happy in doing it. 
"And usually he was right!" 

The old saying that "A prophet is not without honor 
save in his own country" is not true in the case of John 
Jacob Thornburg who is pastor of his native Patterson 
Grove Baptist Church. He is one of John Suttle's "Sons 
of the Ministry" who made such a splendid record in high 
school and college and was so well liked that his home 
people called him back to be their pastor. 

John got a definite call at the age of 22 to do special 
Christian work then left his job as a shipping clerk in 
Burlington Mills, got his college degree and has attended 
several special ministerial schools at Gardner-Webb Col- 
lege since that time. He is continuing Suttle's pattern of 
building the community around the church. 

William Fletcher McGinnis is another Beaver Dam son. 
He answered the call to the ministry at the age of sixteen 
and his pastor led the ordination service and later helped 
him at a revival meeting at High Shoals in Rutherford 
County where McGinnis has been pastor for a number of 
years. He is clerk of the Sandy Run Association. 

If one examines the rolls of all the churches where John 
Suttle has been a pastor for as long as five years, there is 
hardly a church which has not produced ministers, teach- 
ers, full time Christian workers and other leaders of un- 
usual caliber. Probably there are hundreds of persons who 
got their impressions of dedication from him which John 
will never know about. 

Being the leading minister of the Association for forty 
years put Brother John in the position of being called 
upon often to associate in the ordination of many young 
ministers. W. F. Monroe of Grover, North Carolina, re- 

254 Canaan in Carolina 

calls an incident of interest which happened when he was 
being questioned before his ordination. 

In the presbytery along with Brother Suttle was Dr. 
W. A. Ayers of Forest City, a very erudite and highly 
educated minister who was in charge of the questions. He 
used a wide choice of big words and involved phrases. In 
one of the questions his manner was so ponderous that 
young Monroe was confused. "I don't understand, Dr. 
Ayers," the neophyte timidly stated. 

Dr. Ayers turned to Brother Suttle and asked him to 
explain the query to the young minister. Suttle answered, 
"I don't know what you are talking about either." 

Of course, all the preachers present had a good laugh 
and the tension was broken for the embarrassed young 
minister. He went ahead and answered not only that ques- 
tion, but all the others and passed the examination. 


A Picture Of A Pitcher-Collecting 

"Sweetest Story Ever Told" 

Thy people shall be my people 
and thy God my God. 

Ruth 1:16 

"Leila, why do you suppose Mollie won't drink?" called 
John to his wife from the horse trough beside the well at 
the parsonage at Smithfield one late afternoon in 1907. 

"I don't know, John. Maybe she is not thirsty," the 
young minister's attractive wife called back, afraid for the 
moment to tell him the real reason. 

"I know she is thirsty. We have driven over half of 
Johnston County since morning and she has not had a 
drop to drink. And it's hot!" he added. 

"It may be," ventured the young wife who decided she 
had better tell all she knew about the water, "that I put 
too much salt in the well. Or too much kerosene. I found 
some wiggletails in it this morning and the neighbors said 
they always put a little salt in theirs." 

"How much did you put?" asked the interested hus- 


256 Canaan in Carolina 

"I put all of that 100 pound sack, except I left a little 
for our table," she said. 

"And the kerosene?" queried John. 

"About a gallon, I suppose." 

"Well, no wonder Mollie wouldn't drink. I wouldn't 
drink either," said John. 

No one drank from that well for a long time. The 
church soon found out the predicament and bored another 
well on the parsonage lot. 

Wiggletails in the water and real malaria mosquito bites 
were only a part of the troubles and problems of being 
"a pastor's wife" for 66 years. Leila Pierson Suttle is a 
many-sided woman as her collection of pitchers, her paint- 
ings, her clippings, her needlework, and her cooking will 
attest; but first of all, she is a homemaker. Her home has 
been the center of her life whether in a pioneering role in 
Stanly and Johnston counties or in Shelby, the home town 
of her husband. 

She was quite young to be married at the age of sixteen 
and young indeed to be left at home for long periods of 
time with the growing family. Young John tried to get 
home every night, but in those days of poor transporta- 
tion, bad roads, and bad weather, this was not possible 
every time. "Many times I have rocked the children to 
sleep and then cried myself to sleep waiting in the dark- 
ness for John to come home; and I can tell you, I was 
really scared," she recalls. 

In her early years in Atlanta, she never learned not to 
be afraid of the dark and did not know how to interpret 
the sounds of the night which hold no fear for the average 
person in the country. 

Almost suddenly as it were, she found herself the wife 
of a country preacher living on the fringe of a great Caro- 
lina wilderness among strange people, using strange cus- 
toms, and nearly six hundred miles from the warmth of 
her Georgia family connections. 

Bertie Lee was born in Shelby while John was pastor at 
Blacksburg. Charles Batie was born in Albemarle shortly 

(ttnatja nf Arms 



A Picture of a Pitcher-Collecting Partner 257 

after the Suttles took that field, and Esther Barbara and 
Mary Elizabeth were born in Smithfield. All of her babies 
were born in the home since there were no hospitals avail- 
able, and while the doctors were excellent in that day and 
time, they could do little more than a midwife in prac- 
ticing obstetrics in the home. However, the babies flour- 
ished and grew strong and had no serious illnesses except 
for the usual colds, croup, or sore throat. Mrs. Suttle be- 
came quite familiar with all the home remedies of her day 
and time but she was not as quick to use turpentine, kero- 
sene, or pine tar, as some of her neighbors. 

Mrs. Suttle has always been the preacher's helper in the 
home but not in his rural churches. This is not to say she 
did not go to church or help with church work. It would 
have been next to impossible for her to wash and dress the 
children and carry them with John through a long and 
busy day when he would preach as many as five times. 

Instead, she remained at home and was very active in 
her home church. "All of my life I have attended Sunday 
School and preaching service regularly. I can remember 
when we shined and polished the little shoes on Saturday 
night and set them aside for Sunday morning. My mother 
used to send me to her Sunday School (Methodist) in the 
morning and then to a nearby Presbyterian Sunday School 
in the afternoon. 

"I have been fortunate enough to attend most of the 
Associational meetings, State Conventions, occasionally the 
Southern Baptist Convention, and one Baptist World Alli- 

"I have been president of the Woman's Missionary So- 
ciety of the First Baptist Church of Shelby and was the 
first president of this organization at Albemarle." 

A group known as "Wives of Ministers" was organized 
in the Suttle home a number of years ago through the 
efforts of both Mr. Suttle and Mrs. Suttle. On various 
occasions she has taught Sunday School and sung in the 
choir. In South Shelby she assisted members in planning 

258 Canaan in Carolina 

the weddings and arranging decorations for all church 
affairs, especially floral designs. 

One of Mrs. Suttle's greatest interests has been scrap- 
books. Except for her scrapbooks this book could not have 
been written. She has taken a great delight in putting 
every item about the preacher, the people he associates 
with and the churches he served, into the scrapbook. In 
addition she made notations about incidents they both wish 
to remember. Some of these incidents were recorded in 
outline and others in detail. 

For fifty years, Mrs. Suttle's hobby has been collecting 
pitchers. She now has more than 2,000 pitchers of every 
conceivable shape and size with an endless but interesting 
variety. For many years she said she did not realize she 
was a collector until one day while cleaning out a cabinet 
she was surprised to find she had nearly one hundred pitch- 
ers she had saved. 

She then began to think pitchers day and night, for 
weeks and months and years, and now has perhaps the larg- 
est and most valuable private collection of pitchers in the 
South. Some of these pitchers she has bought but many 
of them have been given to her by friends who know of 
her interest in them. "I certainly could not buy many 
pieces of china or glass on John's salary in the early days." 

Not only is she a collector, but she is an authority on 
pitchers. She has read and studied all the available books 
on pitchers, especially those edited by Mrs. Ninnie Watson 
Karnm who was particularly interested in pitchers in pat- 
terned glass. Kamm's book tells when most of the leading 
patterns and styles of glass pitchers were made and usually 
lists the artist who made them popular. Some of the earlier 
ones which are authentic representations of glass work in 
the 1870's are Minerva, Fish Scale, and the One Hundred 
and One. Jacob's Ladder was made in 1885 and a three- 
mold pitcher with a prism ball and butler was made just 
before the turn of the century. 

Mrs. Suttle says that her most valuable pitcher is prob- 

A Picture of a Pitcher-Collecting Partner 259 

ably the Twelve Apostles, made in Stafordshire, England, 
from what is known as salt glaze ware. It was made in the 
last quarter of the eighteenth century at Castleford, Eng- 
land. Figures of all of the Twelve Apostles are found on 
the pitcher. Among the most prized of her collection are 
fourteen copper lustre pitchers all of which are quite old. 
Mrs. Suttle also has some silver lustre but this, she says, is 
not so old or so valuable as the copper. Among the collec- 
tion one can find the names of almost all the countries of 
the world; every conceivable shape, form and size pitcher, 
antiques, orientals, weird faces, animals, flowers; some 
from milk glass, clear glass, amber glass, or earthenware. 

Pitchers bearing the likenesses of the presidents of the 
United States have always been popular. Mrs. Suttle has 
Theodore Roosevelt, John Garfield, Woodrow Wilson, 
Calvin Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Martin 
Van Buren, William McKinley, Benjamin Franklin, James 
K. Polk, William Howard Taft, and George Washington, 
in the pitcher collection. 

One of her most interesting pitchers is an old earthen- 
ware cereal pitcher found in Jugtown. It has two mouths 
and two handles. Mrs. Suttle inquired the reason for these 
features and the old man who made it told her, "Well, the 
cream pitcher sat in the middle of the table and the old 
man and the old woman sat across from each other. By 
having a mouth on each side, the old man could tilt the 
pitcher and pour the cream in his coffee and his wife could 
do the same without moving the pitcher." 

Mrs. Suttle has several unusual pitchers including one 
memorializing the coronation of Edward VII. There is 
another made from a Japanese shell brought to her during 
World War II by Bobby Arey. She has pitchers made of 
wood, of plastic, of lead, and of pewter. One was cro- 
cheted from cotton thread. 

She has a dozen or so pitchers known as Tobys. These 
were made by a potter named Toby Philpot of Bennington, 
Vermont. One highly impressive work of art is a quart 
size Chinese pitcher which is ornately decorated with 

260 Canaan in Carolina 

oriental birds and flowers that are painted to harmonize 
with odd emblems and decorations formed by unusual 
china patterns. 

Not all of the Suttle pitchers are pretty. There is one 
portraying the ugliest man I have ever seen with a huge 
head, misshapen face, unsightly teeth, and huge staring 
eyes. "It isn't very old and I don't know why it was made 
or why I bought it. I got it at Lake Lure, North Carolina, 
and I guess the fact that it is so ugly helps me appreciate 
the other pitchers." 

Mrs. Suttle has a Churchill, a Pickwick, a Confucius, 
the Tavern Keeper, and Village School Master, and Satan 
himself. One pitcher resembles the pirate Captain Kidd, 
and a friend from Long Island, New York, sent her a 
pitcher showing an old woman who looked enough like 
the old pirate to be his wife. They stand side by side. The 
smallest pitcher is known as a flea pitcher and came from 
Peoria, Illinois. It is so small that Mrs. Suttle keeps a rib- 
bon tied to it to keep from losing it. 

In addition to pitchers, Mrs. Suttle from time to time 
has collected dolls and animals. She has a fine Donald 
Duck, Ferdinand the Bull, and any number of cows, dogs 
and horses. 

One of her most famous Bennington pitchers has a pair 
of greyhound dogs for handles. She explained that the 
pitcher was more valuable according to the position of 
the hounds' head. If the head is stretched far over into 
the pitcher this Bennington number is sought after by 
collectors far and wide. 

Mrs. Suttle is a family woman. She came from a large 
family, being the oldest child among the ten children of 
Andrew Fremont Pierson and Ella Barbara Stringer Pier- 
son. Her brothers and sisters were Fred, Frank, Pauline, 
Charlie, Horace, Maude, Clifford, Albert, and Beatrice. 
All except the last child were reared to manhood and 
womanhood; the boys became successful business and pro- 
fessional men mostly in the South, and the girls married 

A Picture of a Pitcher -Collecting Partner 261 

well and reared large families. All of her brothers and 
sisters are now dead except Mrs. C. P. Talbot of Atlanta, 
Georgia, and Mr. H. H. Pierson of Jacksonville, Florida. 

Mrs. Suttle's father was of English descent and was born 
in Dahlonega, Georgia, and later moved to Brunswick and 
Atlanta. He was a huge man, weighing around 240 pounds. 
He died in 1934. Mrs. Suttle was born while the family 
lived at Gainesville, Georgia. She remembers her father 
saying that Grandfather Pierson originally came to Amer- 
ica from Liverpool, England, and came on a ship called 

One branch of the Pierson family was Quakers and 
once lived in Chester, Pennsylvania. All of them are re- 
lated to Abraham Pierson who was one of the founders of 
Yale University and whose tombstone has always been one 
of the points of interest on the Yale Campus. A few years 
ago a group of prankish boys from Harvard stole the 
tombstone of Old Man Abraham thinking that to be a 
good way to even the score with Yale. Since that time a 
very large and heavy statue has been placed on the Yale 
Campus which is much too big to be carted away. 

Mrs. Suttle says in a humorous way that the first battle 
of the Revolutionary War was fought by a Pierson in Yad- 
kin County, North Carolina, and points for her authority 
to a clipping which describes a fight between some man 
named Pierson and a Tory of Yadkin County several years 
before organized fighting of the Revolution began. Pierson 
came out victorious. 

Mrs. Suttle knows more about her family from her 
mother's side. Her Grandfather Stringer was a very 
wealthy man who dealt in slaves. The Morrows in her 
family are related to the John C. Calhoun family of South 
Carolina and also to the renowned Civil War General D. C. 

One of the first grandmothers she knows anything about 
was Lavenia Layton McVernon who was born in Belfast, 
Ireland, and died in this country in 1879. Mrs. Suttle has 
a picture of her great-great-grandmother as well as photo- 

262 Canaan in Carolina 

graphs of a half dozen other grandmothers. Lavenia mar- 
ried James Morrow who came to America to spend a year 
with his cousin, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. He 
bought a large tract of land and went back to Ireland for 
his bride. They were lost on the high seas for several weeks 
and finally landed in Quebec, Canada, where their first 
child, Emily, was born. Later they came to Georgia where 
Emily married Daniel M. Stringer of Gainesville. 

Great-great-grandmother Lavenia Morrow was a deeply 
religious woman and had some of the qualities often found 
in her Irish ancestors which led people to believe she was 
able to see into the future and foretell events to come. As 
she gradually succumbed to the infirmities of old age, she 
showed remarkable calmness and peace. "I am in good 
hands. I have had a good life and I ask only that the will 
of God be done." Sometime before she died, she reported 
that she could see angels hovering above her and she spoke 
about these beings to members of her family. "I see angels 
and my dear Redeemer." At the time of her death she 
was the oldest member of the Gainesville Church. 

Even in the selection of her domestic help, Mrs. Suttle 
still likes to keep things in the family. For the past twenty 
years her loyal and devoted serving maid has been Quincy 
Webber. Quincy 's husband is Jesse Webber, a grandson 
of Phil Wilson who in turn married a girl who once was 
a slave of elder Joseph Suttle. Quincy is cheerful, alert, 
a good cook, and a delightful companion for both Mr. 
and Mrs. Suttle. She and her husband are both leaders in 
their own community church and she takes a great deal 
of pride in knowing that if she needs advice about church 
affairs, her employer is well qualified to give it. 

In the beginning Mrs. Suttle had no particular philoso- 
phy about how to be a preacher's wife, but after sixty-six 
years it can almost be summed up in a manner similar to 
that described by Miss Grace Erwin, a novelist who has 
written several books about preachers and their wives. "A 
minister's wife should be attractive but not too attractive. 

A Picture of a Pitcher-Collecting Partner 263 

She must be adaptable to changing situations in a changing 

"The function of a minister's wife is first of all, to be 
his wife and in this capacity to complement her husband. 
She must not try to lead him but must stay in the back- 
ground enough to push him forward and hold him up for 
appreciation by his congregation. 

"A minister's wife and family can never come first. The 
minister comes first; he is God's man and under God's 
authority, not his wife's. 

"A good wife may many times do her best work by 
giving a sympathetic ear to the preacher's troubles, being 
a sounding board for some of his ideas, and when things 
go wrong to be the escape valve for excess steam, and after 
he has been deflated, inflate him and help him to rise 

A great number of rural churches which now call a 
minister, take it for granted that his wife will enter into 
church activity with him, will lead the choir, head one of 
the departments of the Sunday School, become president of 
the Woman's Missionary Society, assist in organizing all 
church suppers and the all-day dinners, and when the occa- 
sion demands, teach a study course or substitute for the 
minister at the midweek prayer service. 

This was one thing Mrs. Suttle chose not to do. She felt 
that rearing a family and providing a home for John was 
the more important of the two choices. 

In addition to joining churches, Mrs. Suttle has always 
taken great delight in joining other organizations which 
emphasize family, culture, and art. She has at various 
times been listed in the Social Register published by the 
Kingsport Press of Kingsport, Tennessee. She is a member 
of the Daughters of American Revolution, the Daughters 
of Patriots and Founders of America, the UDC and 
Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century. She is also a 
member of the Archives Collector's Association of the 

264 Canaan in Carolina 

If any man ever was in love with a woman, John has 
been in love with Leila. "A woman who has the patience 
to live sixty-six years with a man like me ought to have 
more reward than she can get on this earth. Except for 
my wife I could never have done even the things I have 
done and they couldn't have been done as well." 

John is sincere and honest in his belief that Mrs. Suttle 
comes as near as it is humanly possible in achieving the 
ideal for a woman extolled in Proverbs 31: 

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far 
above rubies. 

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that 
he shall have no need of spoil. 

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with 
her hands. 

She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food 
from afar. 

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to 
her household, and a portion to her maidens. 

She considereth a field and buyeth it. With the fruit of 
her hands she planteth a vineyard. 

She girdeth her loins with strength and strengtheneth 
her arms. 

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good. Her candle 
goeth not out by night. 

She layeth her hands to the spindle and her hands hold 
the distaff. 

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reach- 
eth forth her hands to the needy. 

She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all 
her household are clothed with scarlet. 

She maketh herself coverings of tapestry. Her clothing 
is silk and purple. 

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth 
among the elders of the land. 

She maketh fine linen and selleth it; and delivereth 
girdles unto the merchant. 

Strength and honour are her clothing, and she shall 
rejoice in time to come. 

She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue 
is the law of kindness. 

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eat- 
eth not the bread of idleness. 

Suitle Ancestral Home 

Suttle Home in Shelby, N. C. 




Bertie Lee 


C. 8. 

A Picture of a Pitcher- Collecting Partner 265 

Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband 
also, and he praiseth her. 

Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest 
them all. 

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman 
that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. 

Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own 
works praise her in the gates. 

Brother John's Kith And Kin 

"Blest Be The Tie." 

I will be the God of all the families — 
and they shall he my people. 

Jeremiah 31:1 

"Send for the doctor, Bate. My time is about up." 

Thus spoke gentle Esther Jane Wray Suttle to her hus- 
band, Charles Batie Suttle, on a Sunday morning April 7, 
1872, a little while before her second son, John William, 
was born. This important event in the life of Brother 
John and his parents took place in a house now owned 
and lived in by Tom Mclntyre of the Union Baptist 
Church Community, Cleveland County, North Carolina. 

Spring rains had fallen and corn planted late in March 
was already bursting through the rich soil. Nearby was 
the old drill grounds of Camp Call where soldier boys 
from both Cleveland and Rutherford counties had drilled 
in preparation for going away to the great war — the Civil 
War — the War Between the States. John's father had been 
one of those boys. 

In the past 8 5 years Brother John has had ample time to 
learn that he was born into a great family with wide con- 


Brother John's Kith and Kin 267 

nections in both counties, that he is akin to almost every- 
body who is anybody and "to a lot of other people", he 
adds with a grin. 

The Suttle family originally came from England and 
took its name from the lands of Suthill in Yorkshire, Eng- 
land. This was a corruption of the word Southill. The Coat 
of Arms was officially approved in the visitation of Not- 
tinghamshire in 1614 as having been used by Sir Henry 
Suthill in the reign of Henry VI. The same visitation 
shows a branch of the family residing at Erringham in 
Yorkshire represented by John Suthill, a grandson of Sir 
Henry Suthill. 

The first American representative of this family was 
Isaac Suttle. He came to this country by way of Scotland 
and was the great-great-great-grandfather of the Rever- 
end John W. Suttle. He was a Revolutionary War patriot 
from Virginia, who later settled near Rutherfordton in a 
community near Broad River. Isaac's son, George, was 
born at Floyd's Creek in an old brick house built by his 
father in 1798 to 1800. 

George Suttle was one of the leading citizens of Ruther- 
ford County at the beginning of the 19th century and 
for many years took a leading part in the religious, social, 
and economic life of that county. He built a house in 
Sulfur Springs Township which was considered one of 
the most magnificent structures in the county. It is now 
one of the oldest houses standing in the county. George 
died in 1816. 

His son, Benjamin, married Nancy Baxter and they were 
the parents of Joseph Suttle, along with fourteen other 
children. Joseph was the grandfather of the hero of this 
story, John Suttle. 

Nancy Baxter's marriage into the Suttle family tied 
together two of the most productive families of Western 
North Carolina. The descendants of William Baxter, who 
came from Ireland to America in 1783, have multiplied 
into the thousands and have given Piedmont North Caro- 
lina many of its leading citizens and public servants. His 

268 Canaan in Carolina 

descendants now have spread to almost every state in the 
Union, but a little study of genealogy shows them to con- 
tinue to be leaders in all phases of life. 

William Baxter landed in Charleston, South Carolina, 
in 1783 and soon afterwards gravitated to Rutherford 
County where he married Miss Sarah Berryhill of Meck- 
lenburg County. They built a log cabin not far distant 
from the rushing waters of Broad River High Shoals and 
settled down to the honorable job of tilling the soil and 
rearing a large family. In 1812, Sarah died, and he was 
married a second time to Miss Katherine Lee of the old 
Virginia stock of which a great southerner, Robert E. Lee, 
was a branch. From this marriage came a large part of 
his family and the intelligence for which the Baxter fam- 
ily became famous. 

William was the father of twenty children, and became 
the owner of many thousands of acres of land in the south- 
ern part of Rutherford County including the tracts upon 
which the towns of Henrietta and Caroleen now stand. 
He died on October 12, 1853, at the age of 93. 

In addition to Baxters, many families including his 
lineage, are the Durhams, Suttles, Harrills, Carpenters, 
Griffins, Blantons, Haynes, and many others. Some of 
them have become famous as lawyers, doctors, ministers, 
judges, and governors. 

Elisha Baxter was twice governor of Arkansas; first, 
nominated and elected by the Republicans and second, 
nominated and elected by the Democrats. His explanation 
was, "I did not please my first constituents because I would 
not help loot the state treasury. I got the second nomina- 
tion and election because I agreed to continue this policy." 
He said his campaign slogan was, lt I believe a man ought to 
be reasonably honest." 

Esther McDowell Baxter, daughter of William, married 
Micajah Durham, a pioneer Rutherford County educator 
and soldier. Micajah Durham was a man much ahead of 
his times. He was a great believer in travel as a means of 
broadening one's education. He rode a horse to New York 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 269 

City on one occasion to hear Jenny Lind, the Swedish 
nightingale, sing. He also traveled on horseback to the 
Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, to Florida, and other dis- 
tant points of the country. He represented Rutherford 
County in the State Convention of 1861. 

It is said that he made the first secession speech on the 
steps of the Capitol of the State of North Carolina. He 
was a volunteer in the War Between the States and lost 
his life in the Battle of the Wilderness May 6, 1864. He 
was a cousin of Jefferson Davis, to whom it is said he bore 
a striking resemblance. 

Among the best known children of Micajah Durham is 
the late Plato Durham who practiced law in Shelby and 
was a captain in the Civil War. He and his men were 
credited with firing the last shots at Appomatox. He 
represented Cleveland County in the legislature of 1866 
and also in 1868, and was a leading figure in the Constitu- 
tional Convention of 1868 and 1875. Captain Durham 
was editor of the Shelby Banner and was always an ardent 
worker for any cause or movement which was beneficial 
to North Carolina and his native people. He was instru- 
mental in gaining many pardons for members of the Ku 
Klux Klan. He died November 9, 1875. 

His brother, Columbus Durham, prior to his death a few 
years ago, was one of the state's most prominent Baptist 

George Suttle, John's great-great-grandfather, purchased 
three tracts of land in Rutherford County totaling ap- 
proximately 614 acres. Much of this was in cultivation 
and while in his possession, he cleared more of it and 
planted it. At one time he owned approximately 50 slaves 
which necessitated a large area of land in cultivation to 
maintain them. 

The fine house he built is now known as the Carpenter 
house, having been inherited by one of his daughters who 
married Tennessee Carpenter. His will, found in the ap- 

270 Canaan in Carolina 

pendix of this book, gives an interesting insight into the 
life and times of early colonial days. 

George was survived by the following children: William 
B. Suttle, Joseph Suttle, Benjamin F. Suttle, Elizabeth 
Suttle, George W. Suttle, John B. Suttle, Sarah Suttle, 
Susan Suttle, and Nancy Suttle. 

Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, married William Lewis 
Griffin in 1820. He was Register of Deeds for eighteen 
years and was taken from office by the Reconstruction 
Acts of 1868. Other daughters and granddaughters mar- 
ried Camps, Kelleys, Baxters, Harrills, Blands, Bostics, 
Fortunes, and Carpenters. 

Elder Joseph Suttle was born in 1827 and died in 1861. 
His home place was about four and one-half miles south- 
west of Shelby. He was pastor of the Double Springs Bap- 
tist Church of which Brother John was later to serve as 
pastor for 37 years. He was present at this church when 
the Kings Mountain Association was organized in 18 51 
and was pastor of the New Bethel Church from 1857 to 
18 59, for which he was paid the munificent sum of $49.21 
for his services. 

Elder Suttle was pastor of many other churches in this 
section and was one of the leading proponents of the idea 
so common to Missionary Baptists. He believed in Missions 
as opposed to the Anti-mission ideas of the so-called Hard- 
shell or Primitive Baptists. In 185 5, he delivered a "classic" 
Missionary sermon to the Association, which was the an- 
nual letter. (See Appendix.) 

He was married in 1846 to Miss Elvira Blanton who had 
been born in 1828 and died in 1911. She was a daughter 
of Charles Blanton, the first sheriff of Cleveland County, 
and a sister of Burwell Blanton who became the father of 
"Uncle" Charlie Blanton and George Blanton, prominent 
Shelby bankers. To this union was born Charles Batie 
Suttle, Sara Suttle, Esther Suttle, and A. B. Suttle. Sara 
married George Washington Wray; Esther married Dr. 
Victor McBrayer. A. B. Suttle married Miss Lou Miller. 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 271 

Charles Bade Suttle was born in 1846 and died in 1927. 
He was married on August 8, 1869 to Esther Jane Wray, 
who was born in 1851 and died in 1932. 

An interesting story in connection with the ownership 
of slaves by Elder Joseph Suttle was that on his farm he 
had a free born Negro named Andy Johnson. Andy fell 
in love with a slave girl belonging to J. A. L. Wray and 
wanted to marry her. Mr. Wray refused. Finally Andy 
persuaded Elder Joseph Suttle to buy her. Mr. Suttle 
agreed to do so if Andy would repay him by working for 
him seven years. The minister paid the sum of $1,100 for 
the slave girl. 

As the Civil War broke out, Elder Joseph became very 
ill. He called Andy to his bedside and asked him to prom- 
ise that no matter what course events took at the close of 
the war, he would fulfill the terms of their contract. Andy 
promised to do so. Although the minister died in the spring 
of 1861, Andy Johnson remained faithful to his mistress 
for several years following the war and the Emancipation 

Andy Johnson was a preacher like his benefactor. He 
studied the Bible diligently and was able to preach power- 
ful sermons, swinging his long arms and impressing the 
congregation with his tall, gaunt six-foot-four frame. 
Several of his sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons became 
ministers and at least four or five of these very tall Johnson 
boys are well known itinerant colored preachers in Cleve- 
land County. 

The will of Elder Joseph Suttle is interesting and is re- 
corded in the appendix of this book. 

A. B. Suttle, known as Ab Suttle, was the only brother 
of Charles Batie, being Brother John's only uncle on his 
father's side. He was sheriff of Cleveland County for two 
terms. Physically he was more like the Blantons, large of 
stature, with a dominant type of personality, and a very 
good sheriff. He was sheriff at the time Shelby's chief of 
police, Ed Hamrick, was killed by a Negro. He was shot 
at during the fracas. 

272 Canaan in Carolina 

After Elder Joseph Suttle died, his widow, Elvira Blan- 
ton Suttle, moved to Shelby and occupied a house built by 
George Wray. She was known as one of Shelby's saintliest 
and most highly esteemed ladies. The house she lived in 
was one of Shelby's finest residences at that time. It had 
double front doors, artistic banisters, gracious porches on 
a street lined with massive oaks, linden trees with their 
heart shaped leaves, and flanked on either side by stately 
elms. Mrs. Suttle spent her declining years with her young- 
est daughter, Esther, who was the wife of Dr. Victor Mc- 
Brayer. They were the parents of Mrs. Paul Webb, Mrs. 
Otis Mull, Mrs. Penry Owens, and Willie McBrayer. 

Brother John's parents, Charles and Esther Jane, were 
married at Double Springs where Grandfather Suttle had 
been pastor. They rode from Shelby to Double Springs 
on horseback, got married, and then went to church serv- 
ice. "Going back home was their honeymoon," says John. 

On their 50th wedding anniversary their son, John, took 
them back to Double Springs as a part of the celebration 
of that occasion. 

Bate Suttle was known for many years as Shelby's 
"model man". Born December 22, 1846, he became a 
member of Captain Jim Wells' volunteers for late service 
in the Civil War. He saw action and several skirmishes 
with the Yankees in Eastern North Carolina. 

When the Civil War closed he was in the Greensboro 
area and was informed by Captain Wells of the surrender 
of General Lee at Appomattox. The boys were given the 
privilege of throwing down their arms and getting home 
the best way they could or of waiting to be paroled. Bate 
threw down his arms and walked the 180 miles from 
Greensboro to Shelby, most of the time barefooted and 
with his clothes in tatters. 

All the members of his family were eager to greet him, 
but he motioned them to wait until after he had had a bath 
at the spring house and put on a new suit of clothes that 
his mother had made for him. His future wife, Esther 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 273 

Jane Wray, was the first to see him arrive at his own home. 
She threw her arms around him and gave him a soldier's 

Bate was a tall, thin, ascetic looking man, but no weak- 
ling. He took personal family pride in the fact that he 
never used tobacco in any form, never took a drink of 
alcohol, did not even taste Coca-Cola, or cold drinks and 
was never known to take an oath or use a swear word. In 
his youth his hair was red but it turned from gray to white 
as he approached fourscore years. 

Death came one day in the barber shop where he was 
about to have some tonsorial work done, although appar- 
ently he had been enjoying good health. 

He was reputed to be one of the hardest working men 
in Shelby, getting up around four o'clock in the morning 
and working until bedtime. His idea of rest was a change 
of occupation. If the boys about him got tired from plow- 
ing or hoeing he would say, "Well, while we rest let's 
shuck corn for awhile." 

He joined the church at Double Springs at the age of 
nine and was baptized by his father, Elder Joseph Suttle. 
He was a faithful member there but because of his retir- 
ing ways was not an active leader in church affairs. How- 
ever, after moving to Shelby he became a deacon in the 
First Baptist Church where he was a member for 44 years. 

Bate was a farmer until the year 1884, after which he 
moved to Shelby and went into the livery stable business 
with G. W. Wray. They bought and sold mules and horses, 
rented animals and vehicles for hire. Later he had a gro- 
cery and meat business with Marion Putnam and from that 
went into the operation of the first ice plant in the city 
of Shelby. 

Numerous glowing tributes were paid to his life and 
character by ministers, fellow townsmen, and newspapers. 

The way Bate Suttle and Esther Jane Wray met, court- 
ed, and married each other was no accident. It might 
have been a sort of planned accident. 

Elder Joe Suttle and J. A. L. Wray lived on adjoining 

274 Canaan in Carolina 

farms. Each one owned about 500 acres of rich land on 
the west side of Broad River. On Sunday afternoons Batie 
would take his sister, Sara Suttle, for a horseback ride. At 
the same time, George Wray would take his sister, Esther 
Jane, for a buggy ride. They would meet "accidentally" 
at the place planned by the boys beforehand and swap 
sisters. Things began to happen and they went around 
together a little more and a little more. Finally Bate mar- 
ried Esther and George married Sara and both reared large 

Mrs. Suttle, mother of John, was a small boned, slender, 
good looking brunette with brown eyes, dark hair, and a 
lovely complexion. She was the daughter of James Alex- 
ander Linton Wray, the second daughter and third child. 
An older sister, Priscilla Wray, married James Toms of 
Rutherford County, who in turn had a daughter who later 
married the late John R. Dover of Shelby, mother of 
Charles and Jack, the textile industrialists, and other 

In early life, Mrs. Suttle learned to spin and weave cloth 
and run the reel for winding the thread. One of her spe- 
cial jobs was to prepare tallow and later tallow and bees- 
wax and mold them into eight inch candles. She had a 
mold with which she could prepare six to eight candles at 
a time. She was energetic and full of life, had a keen 
sense of humor, and was an almost untiring worker. She 
had two other sisters and six brothers. 

After her marriage to Bate Suttle they bought a farm 
and moved about ten miles northwest of Shelby into the 
Union Community. There was no church building there 
then, but people would come from the surrounding com- 
munity and spend the week camping. Once in 1871, 
Esther and Batie kept 26 people overnight. Their house 
was small and they cooked on the open fireplace and slept 
on pallets, but since they had plenty of quilts it was no 
problem to make a nice bed on the floor and the young 
folks did not mind it at all. In fact, they had a grand time 
with the boys in one room and the girls in another. 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 275 

The following morning all of the guests would arise 
early and help the young couple to prepare breakfast, fold 
up their beds and be off to the Camp Ground in time for 
a few visits with other friends before the preaching hour. 
They would have their dinner on long tables constructed 
around the "church" arbor. 

In 1873, Bate and Esther moved back to the Sharon 
Community where he bought a farm near his mother's 
home place. He built a one room schoolhouse on the place 
and employed a governess for his family and the children 
of a few neighbors. John attended Sharon Public School 
and two sessions at the Blanton school. These schools were 
taught by the late R. L. Ryburn, well known Shelby 

Bate and Esther became the parents of seven children: 
Joe L. Suttle, Secretary-Treasurer of the Cleveland Build- 
ing and Loan Association; the Reverend John W. Suttle; 
Julius A. Suttle, druggist; Mrs. S. A. McMurry, wife of 
Mayor Sim McMurry; Mrs. Lander F. McBrayer; Mrs. 
L. P. Holland; and Mrs. Lewis Baley, all of Shelby. 

Upon her death at the age of 81, Esther Jane was lauded 
as the model wife of the model man and fit person to be 
the mother of seven very fine children. She was widely 
loved by family and friends. Even after the snows of many 
winters whitened her hair, she enjoyed the companionship 
of young people and delighted in the gathering of her 
children and grandchildren. 

Mrs. Suttle's father, J. A. L. Wray, was the son of Wil- 
liam Wray. William was a native of Georgia who was 
born January 7, 1805. He had another son, David W. 
Wray, born July 5, 1826, who was one of the first pastors 
of Double Springs. A large family connection still exists 
in the Carolinas and Georgia. 

After Bate moved to Sharon he built a house which is 
now known as the Wesson house. While building the 
house, he lived at the home of his father, Elder Joe Suttle, 
which is the original Suttle homestead in Cleveland 

276 Canaan in Carolina 

County. This grand old colonial mansion is now owned 
by J. L. Suttle, Jr., of Shelby. 

Little John got to live in a number of houses while he 
was very young. In 1884, the family moved to Shelby on 
West Marion Street and occupied a house known as the 
Elvira Blanton Suttle building which had been built by 
George Wray. Sometime later the Bate Suttles bought and 
moved to the Arthur Wray house. After this they went 
to the grandfather Wray home, known in Shelby as the 
S. A. McMurry home on West Marion Street, in order to 
take care of Mrs. Suttle's mother and father in their old 
age. Here the Suttles lived until John was old enough to 
go away to school. 

After marriage, Brother John also lived in other places 
in Shelby. When he came to be pastor of the Second Bap- 
tist Church he lived in a house on South LaFayette Street 
not very far from the church, across the railroad. A little 
later they moved to a small house closer to town on La- 
Fayette Street, the lot now being occupied by a gasoline 
company. In Lawndale, he lived in the old Major Schenck 
house for eighteen months. From Lawndale he moved back 
to Shelby and occupied the Wilkins home on West Marion 
and a little later moved to a home on Grover Street in a 
house which stands on the present location of the Shelby 

Most of his Shelby years have been spent in a home on 
North Washington Street at the intersection of North 
Washington and Sumter. It was at this location that he 
developed the hobby of raising chickens and keeping the 
fowls at the back of the house in a lot and hen houses 
constructed for that purpose. A few years ago he sold this 
property and moved to 708 West Marion, which home he 
still occupies and says that this is definitely his last move 
until he goes on to Glory. 

Brother John's brothers and sisters married well and all 
have been influential people in the life of Shelby. His older 
brother, Joe L. Suttle, married Miss Mae Walker, a city 
music teacher in 1903, who at the same time was organist 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 277 

at the First Baptist Church. Mrs. Suttle died in 1916. 
Joe died in 1943 after a long career as a busy financier, 
churchman, and real estate investor. He was vice-presi- 
dent of the Union Trust Company for many years and at 
the same time was Secretary-Treasurer and Director of the 
Cleveland Building and Loan Association. He had several 
terms on the city council and finally became mayor of 

Mary Irene Suttle married S. A. McMurry who later 
became mayor of the city. Louise Wray Suttle married 
Lewis Baley, a business man. Julius Albert Suttle married 
Ethel Lineberger. Julius was a pharmacist and established 
one of the leading drug stores in Shelby. Dovie Elizabeth 
Suttle married Lander McBrayer, a business man; and Ola 
Suttle married L. P. Holland, also a Shelby business man. 

On March 29, 1893, John William Suttle was married 
to Miss Leila Bertie Lee Pierson, daughter of Andrew Fre- 
mont Pierson and Ella Barbara Pierson of Atlanta, Georgia. 
The Piersons at that time were living at Blacksburg, South 
Carolina, where Mr. Pierson was conductor on the South- 
ern Railroad. 

To this union was born Bertie Lee, Charles Batie, Esther 
Barbara, and Mary Elizabeth Suttle. 

Bertie Lee was born December 31, 1893 in Shelby while 
John was still pastor at Blacksburg. Mrs. Suttle came 
home to be with the elder Suttles for the new arrival. 
Bertie Lee graduated from the Presbyterian grammar 
school at Marshall, North Carolina, where she also won 
a recitation medal. Upon moving to Shelby she was elected 
president of the Shelby High School graduating class. She 
attended Oxford College and also the New York School 
of Music and Arts. She later studied at the Julliard School 
of Music in Hartford, Connecticut. She taught the first 
grade in the South Shelby School for a number of years 
and for many years was organist at South Shelby and was 
organist and choir director at the First Baptist Church. 

Bertie Lee became the first president of the Ishpening 

278 Canaan in Carolina 

Literary Club of Shelby and was the first secretary of the 
Shelby Music Club. 

She was married on June 28, 1919 to Joe Turner Cabi- 
ness, M.D., in Charlotte, North Carolina. The wedding 
was performed by one of her father's closest frinds, Dr. 
L. R. Pruitt. They moved shortly thereafter to Hartford, 
Connecticut, where Dr. Cabiness was connected with a 
large insurance company. 

For many years in Hartford, Bertie Lee has had a lead- 
ing role in music, Sunday School, church organizations, 
study clubs, Daughters of the American Revolution, Gar- 
den Club, League of Women Voters, and other organiza- 

A student of fine arts, she has developed considerable 
talent as a portrait artist and has done portraits for her 
father and mother and a number of the leading residents 
of Hartford. Her hobby is the collection of old silver. 

Bertie Lee went with her parents on their odyssey to 
Stanly and Johnston counties and often went to some 
of the smaller rural churches for the services. She has 
never been able to understand how the senior deacon who 
reported her not bowing her head during the prayer could 
see her head if his own head was bowed. 

Her husband, Joseph Turner Cabiness, was born in 
Shelby on November 12, 1889. He attended the Shelby 
graded school and later went to Wake Forest College where 
he received the B.A., M.A., and B.S. degrees and was grad- 
uated cum laude. He later graduated from Physicians and 
Surgeons college in New York and interned at the Orange 
Memorial Hospital. He served as a doctor overseas in 
World War I. After his marriage to Bertie Lee in 1919, 
they moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where he became 
Assistant Medical Director of Travelers Insurance Com- 
pany. In Hartford, he has been a member of the Asylum 
Avenue Baptist Church, the Hartford Medical Society, 
Rotary Club of which he was president in 1942-43 and 
attended all the meetings of that club for a period of 25 
years without missing a single session. He is also a mem- 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 279 

ber of the Windsor Men's Club, the Farmington Country 
Club, and the University Club. His hobbies are social 
service, collecting copper lustre and remodeling old colo- 
nial houses. 

In semi-retirement he and his wife spend part of their 
time in Shelby and part of their time in New England. 

Dr. and Mrs. Cabiness have one son, Joseph Turner 
Cabiness, Jr., born October 19, 1925 at Hartford, Con- 
necticut. Another son died in infancy. Joe is a business 
man in Hartford, Connecticut, having finished Wilbraham 
Academy and Wake Forest College. He is also a veteran 
of World War II. 

In October 1938, Mrs. Cabiness was cited by the Wind- 
sor Herald for her efforts in seeking to restore the town 
of Windsor to its original beauty after severe destruction 
by a hurricane a few days earlier. Mrs. Cabiness' sugges- 
tion was the widespread planting of evergreen vines to take 
the place of the glorious elms and maples which had been 
flattened by the hurricane. 

A Christmas experience will linger long in the mind of 
Bertie Lee. When she was a little girl, she was impressed 
by the fact that her parents on Christmas Eve had brought 
in some straw and feed and placed it near their stockings 
and told them on Christmas morning, "Santa Claus stayed 
here long enough last night to feed his reindeer. See the 
feed and straw." After she had married and moved away, 
she and her husband repeated the same incident for her 
child and some of the neighbors' children and got the 
same results: a glorious renewal of faith in Santa Claus 
and the wonderful mystery of Christmas. 

While visiting his grandfather a few years ago, Joe Jr. 
and his cousin Bill Erwin put on a benefit circus and cos- 
tume ball and gave the proceeds, 14 cents in all, to one 
of his mother's favorite charities. 

Charles Batie Suttle, John's second child and only son, 
was born July 25, 1895, while the family was in Albe- 
marle. He grew up in Shelby and attended school there. 

280 Canaan in Carolina 

He entered service for World War I on August 4, 1918, 
and was honorably discharged on December 24, 1918, for 
disability. He was private first class of a medical detach- 
ment at the base hospital at Camp Wadsworth, South 

On his return to Shelby from service, he married Miss 
Mildred Hamrick but this couple was separated a few 
years later with no children. On November 9, 1940, he 
married Miss Ruby DeYoung at Greenville, South Caro- 
lina. His present residence is Spartanburg, South Caro- 
lina, where he has been a member of the Baptist Church, 
President of the Young Men's Bible Class and a member 
of the American Legion Post. His wife, Ruby, is very 
prominent in church work. They have two children: a 
daughter, Diane, born August 8, 1943; and a son, Michael 
Batie, born September 14, 1945. 

Unfortunately for a number of years he was estranged 
from his father and this fact deeply grieved his parents. 
The separation was about a matter which neither father 
nor son discussed even among members of the family. 
However, this breach apparently has been healed and C. B. 
now visits often in the home and quite often may be seen 
driving his parents out to one of the rural churches for a 
visit. He squires them both courteously and carefully and 
shows a personality which is definitely "Suttle and Pierson 
all the way". 

Esther Barbara Suttle, John's third child and second 
daughter, was born June 10, 1898, at Smithfield, North 
Carolina. She was graduated from the Shelby High School 
in 1919 and attended Coker College during 1920-21 where 
she specialized in Home Economics. On returning home, 
she became a member of the Shelby Book Club, United 
Daughters of Confederacy and the Daughters of the 
American Revolution and did extensive Red Cross work 
during World War I. She also continued Red Cross work 
during World War II. She has been a director of Gray 
Lodge in Hartford, Connecticut. She is a member of the 
Baptist Church. 


W. J. Erwin, Jr. 

Joe T. Cabaniss, Jr. 

Mother and Daughters When 
Dresses Were Longer 

(Left to right) Mrs. D. R. Sibley, Mrs. 
Suttle, Mrs. W. J. Erwin, Sr., and Mrs. 
J. T. Cabaniss. 

C. B. Suttle When Collars 
Were Higher 

Charles Batie Suttle 

Esther Jane Wray Suttle 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 281 

On November 1, 1922, Esther Barbara married Dudley 
Richardson Sibley of Hartford, Connecticut, at a wedding 
in her parents' home in Shelby. They have no children. 

D. R. Sibley was born December 18, 1894, in Provi- 
dence, Rhode Island. He was educated in schools there 
and later attended the Wilbraham Academy at Wilbraham, 
Massachusetts, and then graduated from Brown Univer- 
sity at Providence, Rhode Island. He is a veteran of World 
War I, having joined the Army in 1918 as a buck private. 
Later he was stationed at Fort Slocum, New York; Camp 
Hancock, Georgia; Camp Dix, New Jersey; and was hon- 
orably discharged in May, 1919. 

He has had a brilliant and outstanding career in the 
insurance business. He became marine underwriter with 
the Automobile Insurance Company in 1920, and in 1923, 
was manager of the Inland Marine Department. Since 
that time he has worked his way upward in the insurance 
business and is at the present time head of the Automobile 
Insurance Company and the Standard Fire Insurance Com- 
pany of Hartford, Connecticut. He is a member of sev- 
eral clubs in Hartford and has been an active member of 
the Baptist Church in that city. He is a deacon. His hobby 
is collecting valuable glass. D. R. has been quite active in 
local Republican politics in Hartford since 1936. 

Mary Elizabeth, youngest of the Suttle daughters, was 
born February 6, 1902, at Smithfield, North Carolina. 
She was graduated from the Shelby High School as poet 
of the class and later attended Coker College at Hartsville, 
South Carolina. During World War I she did Red Cross 
work and later was head of the blood plasma unit at Ware 
Shoals, South Carolina. She has been quite active in the 
Baptist Church. 

On January 18, 1930, she was married to William James 
Erwin of Pineville, North Carolina. The wedding was 
performed by her father, assisted by Dr. Zeno Wall. Mary 
Elizabeth is also a member of the United Daughters of 
the Confederacy, Colonial Dames of XVII Century, 

282 Canaan in Carolina 

Daughters of Patriots and Founders of America, Daugh- 
ters of the American Revolution, and her specialty with 
the arts is the church organ. She is a charter member of 
the Contemporary Book Club of Shelby, of which she was 
the first vice-president. Mary Elizabeth takes an active 
part in Red Cross work in Danville. 

In 1932, twin sons were born to Mr. and Mrs. Erwin, 
who had moved to Great Falls, South Carolina. Only one 
of the sons survived and he was named William James 
Erwin, Jr. 

At the age of five, Junior wrote Santa Claus a letter 
which Grandmother Suttle keeps and treasures very highly. 
The letter follows: 

Dear Santa: I want a carpet sweeper, mop, and broom, 
a side car, a chest of tools, a tricycle and trailer, a large 
dump truck. 

A bear on rollers, car with lights and breaks, and I want 
it to be streamlined. A baby carriage and a large doll, and 
a bed for the doll. A large elephant, a large dog, a monkey, 
stove, electric iron. A bear with red legs with a black body 
and a brown head. 

Billy Joe 
P.S. You will find me in Shelby and you might bring 
me a saxophone and airplane. 
From composing letters to Santa Claus, Billy Joe has 
graduated to composing music, at which he is quite an 
expert. He also studies voice, sings well, collects stamps, 
and is an artist with a brush and easel. He became an 
Eagle Scout before going to McCallie School for Boys, 
where he was graduated. He has just completed a career 
in the armed forces in Korea. His hobby is music and 
journalism. Billy Joe is now in school at Chapel Hill, N. C. 

William James Erwin, husband of Mary Elizabeth, was 
born on November 18, 1900, in Pineville, North Carolina. 
He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Erwin. His 
father was a merchant who died when William was only 
two years old. The family then moved to Fort Mill, South 
Carolina, when he was four. There he attended grammar 

Brother John's Kith and Kin 283 

school and high school, and was graduated in 1916 at the 
age of fifteen years. He was graduated from Clemson Col- 
lege in 1921 with a B.S. degree in textiles. He went to 
work immediately for Consolidated Textile Corporation 
in Lynchburg, Virginia, and was made assistant superin- 
tendent in 1923. He was transferred to Shelby in 1927 as 
manager of the Ella Division of Consolidated. It was at 
this time he met Elizabeth Suttle and married her in 1930. 
In 1929, he became president of Republic Cotton Mills 
then moved up in important textile circles to be a high 
official with the J. P. Stevens Company, then with Reigel 
Textile Corporation, and at the present time is President 
and Treasurer of the Dan River Mills, Inc., of Danville, 
Virginia. This mill is known as the largest cotton mill in 
the world. He is a member and elder of the Presbyterian 
Church and always takes time to teach a Bible class and 
be active in Boy Scout work. He is a lieutenant in the 
Reserve Corps of the Army and also a Rotarian. His hobby 
is music. 

These, then, are the immediate forebears and descend- 
ants of John and Leila Suttle. Members of the Suttle 
family have always been close to each other and they pride 
themselves on being what Edgar Guest called a "stick to- 
gether family". At Christmas, Easter, vacation time or 
other holiday seasons, all the members of the family like 
to get together, so they have organized a Suttle Clan to 
meet once a year. 


"This I Believe" 

"All Hail The Power" 

His eyes were on heaven; 
The book was in his hand; 
His back was to the world; 
His feet were on the ground; 
Truth was always on his lips. 

— John Bunyan 

After preaching approximately 32,000 sermons in three- 
score and five years, Brother John thinks he knows the 
ingredients of a good sermon and how long it should take 
to preach it. 

Several trunks full of sermon outlines with notes, sug- 
gestions, illustrations, stories, and other sermon helps, are 
stacked away in the library, a number of closets, and the 
attic of the Suttle home. 

"My sermons have always been expository instead of 
topical" said Brother John. "I have tried to keep up with 
current events of the day and keep in touch with all of 
the happenings to my members, but when it came to 
preaching I tried to stick close to the Bible and especially 
close to explaining and expounding the two great general 
topics of Evangelism and Stewardship. I guess of all of the 
sermons I have preached, more than half of them have been 
on these two general subjects. 


"This I Believe" 285 

"I suppose I have preached sermons from every book 
in the Bible, every chapter in each book, and almost all of 
the verses. I find it is no trouble to get a sermon from 
anything, if it is in God's Word." 

John's theology comes directly from the Bible itself and 
he makes no apology for his belief of the Bible from Genesis 
to Revelation, from cover to cover. 

His ability to preach, his choice of subject matter, and 
how to preach, probably were influenced more by the late 
Dr. John A. Broadus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, 
Kentucky, than by any other one man. Two incidents 
which occurred while he was a student in Louisville have 
impressed John throughout the years. 

As one of the requirements at the Seminary, all of the 
students had to preach a fifteen minute sermon to the rest 
of the class, with Dr. Broadus listening. Brother John 
chose for his sermon a passage from the fifth chapter of 
Mark about the man who had been possessed of demons. 
He related how Jesus had cured the man, cast the demons 
out, and how the man was made well. He went on with 
the story, finally finished his sermon, and sat down. 

"Brother Suttle," said Dr. Broadus. "One thing about 
that sermon is that you left the poor demon in hell. You 
did not preach a sermon that led him to Christ. Always 
lead a man to Jesus who is his Saviour." 

Another student was preaching his fifteen minute ser- 
mon to the class and Dr. Broadus, and had for his subject 
the case of a woman who had lost her family. Being a 
rich society woman, she had purchased a poodle dog which 
she took with her to all the parties or wherever she went 
in the search of happiness. She had abandoned the idea 
of helping children or of donating to orphanages, but 
clung to the idea of taking care of the dog. When he got 
through, he looked at Dr. Broadus for approval. Dr. 
Broadus merely shrugged his shoulders and as he walked 
out of the room said, "My boy, you will never make a 
preacher of the gospel if you preach more poodle dog than 
you do Jesus." 

286 Canaan in Carolina 

On another occasion while Suttle was a very young 
preacher, one of the old country preachers from the foot- 
hills was in a meeting and had asked John to say a few 
words. John was timid and young and a little reluctant 
to say anything. The old timer patted him on the back 
and said, "If you don't know what to say, just brag on 
Jesus for about fifteen minutes. That'll be sermon enough 
for my people." 

John has not made it a habit to preach the same sermon 
over and over again and of the many thousand appear- 
ances he has made, he has tried to have a "new" topic and 
sermon for his people. However, there is one sermon topic 
taken from John 3:36 which he has preached more times 
than any other. This verse of Scripture is, "He that be- 
lieveth on the Son hath eternal life," with the emphasis on 

"The Book did not say ivas or can or will or maybe, but 
states definitely and positively that for him who believes 
he hath eternal life already. The Christian religion is a 
present tense religion. This quality makes it very valuable 
in home life, church life, and in so doing, very clearly 
outlines the whole duty of the Christian." 

One of the other great texts which Mr. Suttle has re- 
peated from time to time, especially in revival services, 
comes from Deuteronomy 33:27 and says, "The Eternal 
God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting 
arms." "There is so much sin, sorrow, unhappiness, degra- 
dation, squalor and remorse in the world that someone 
must tell people that God is love, that He understands, 
that He sent a Son, and that He is always present; that His 
arms are underneath to bear up and to keep us, and that 
they are everlasting arms," he says. 

"The Wisdom of Winners" is the sermon topic he used 
twice at Double Springs, having preached it first when 
he came to the church in 1918 and the second time when 
he resigned his pastorate in 1954. This text is from Pro- 
verbs 11:30. 

"This I Believe" 287 

As a rule, John does not use catch phrases to entice his 
people or to make them think they are going to get some- 
thing unusual. However, a few titles he has used sound a 
little catchy such as, "How to be a Grasshopper" from 
Numbers 13:33. Also, a favorite of the older days was 
"Gospel Bells" in which he rang a bell and made the music 
resound over the congregation. 

Still another was, "Sugar Sticks" and another "I Saw 
an Angel in the Sun". One of his very best sermons was 
from a title suggested by the Reverend J. L. Jenkins, called 
"A Dead-Broke Preacher". On several occasions he ser- 
monized on "We would see Jesus" which was made famous 
all over the world by Dr. George W. Truett in 1910. 

Dr. Phil Elliott, President of Gardner-Webb College, 
said he was impressed by the fact that Suttle's sermons 
were always on great themes of faith, love, social responsi- 
bility, being my brother's keeper, and great stories like the 
parables. "His philosophy was that we fight evil by pro- 
claiming righteousness, both in words and in personal life. 
He made the impression upon me that he would rather 
feed eagles than to kill snakes." 

He admits that some of his friends, and other people 
who are not his friends, think he is extreme in his preach- 
ing and teaching of stewardship. He has been known for 
many years as the "Money raisingest Preacher" in the en- 
tire Association. He likes to tell the story about himself 
when a few years ago he was in a church talking about 
stewardship and kept hammering on the idea of people 
giving more. 

Finally, one of the deacons approached him and said, 
"Brother John, you talk so much about money a few of 
our people don't like you." 

Brother Suttle replied, "Well, let me tell you right here 
and now. I have been at this church only three months 
and find so many of our members so cold and uncoopera- 
tive, unresponsive, unchristian, and unwilling to give of 
their time and money to the Lord's work that to be honest 

288 Canaan in Carolina 

with you, I don't like you and I don't believe the Lord does 

The deacon turned away without another word but Mr. 
Suttle said that he noted with a great deal of interest that 
this particular deacon began to give $10 more each month 
than he had ever given before. 

Abraham has a strong appeal for Mr. Suttle. For the 
main reasons, that he was a man of faith and followed 
God's call even when he did not know where he was going. 
David is another of his favorites, and the Psalms are his 
favorite sources of reading and taking verses for texts. He 
thinks it is a good thing for a Christian both to confess 
his sins and praise the Lord. These are the two features 
in David's life which made him "a man after God's own 

In the New Testament the Beatitudes have been the 
source of many of his favorite texts, along with the Ser- 
mon on the Mount. Aside from Jesus in the New Testa- 
ment, Peter is his favorite character. Perhaps John, the 
beloved disciple, is next and the Apostle Paul third. 

He is definitely certain that the center of all creation, 
of all time, of all things, of all men, has been Jesus Christ 
of Nazareth. 

His favorite parables are of the Good Samaritan, the 
Lost Coin, the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Prodigal Son. 

His text for the first sermon he preached over 65 years 
ago was from Romans, "For the Wages of Sin is Death". 

His favorite miracle is the restoration of sight to the 
blind by Jesus, followed closely by the story of the ten 
lepers of which only one came back to say, "Thank you," 
and Jesus asked the question, "Where are the nine?" 

The two favorite books of the New Testament are 
Matthew and John, although he has taken many texts 
from Acts. 

"I have been a man of action. I like action among 
church members, and naturally one would think I would 
be interested in the actions of the first Christians. I like 

Birthday, age 82, at Double Springs. Suttles with two daugh- 
ters, Elizabeth and Bertie Lee, and Dr. J. T, Cabaniss in back row. 

Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Erwin 
of Danville, Va. 

Mr. and Mrs. D. R. Sibley 
of Hartford, Conn. 

"This I Believe" 289 

champions. I like men who fight for what is right. I like 
to see a man accept a job and put it over. I even like to 
tune in on the Lone Ranger because he always fights for 
the right, always gets his job done, and always wins for the 
side of Law and Order." 

John is a strong believer in the local church. He be- 
lieves that the local church is the final authority so far as 
churches go in this earth. He does not believe that a 
hierarchy has a right to rule over Christians in a manner 
not acceptable to them. He does not believe that the judg- 
ment of any man alive is infallible be he a preacher, dea- 
con, bishop, cardinal, or pope. 

He has always been in favor of the distinctive Baptist 
doctrines but has never been disagreeable in disagreeing 
with other denominational views. "I expect to see millions 
of Methodists, Presbyterians, and other Christians when I 
get to Heaven." 

He thinks membership in the average church this day 
and time is too easy. The lax way in which many churches 
are organized and run speaks of weakness and if the test 
of faith came, many churches and church members would 
not be prepared. The average church member does not 
realize his church responsibility. "I think about one mem- 
ber in ten does all he can; fifty per cent do nothing at all 
and the rest are in the shadowy land in between. They 
work for a while and then fade out; become enthused and 
then grow lukewarm or cold," he says. 

One of the weaknesses of the present church is the lack 
of visiting. He cited the example of Jesus visiting person- 
ally; also, of sending out the twelve and later seventy 
disciples to visit, and mentioned that they went from house 
to house and person to person telling the Good News. 

He is impressed with the conception of James about 
practical religion, but then declares that if we accept James 
we must accept the Revelation and along with it a great 
many things through faith. Some of the books that have 
helped him most to understand the Bible were by Dr. John 
A. Broadus, Dr. John R. Sampey, Spurgeon's Commen- 

290 Canaan in Carolina 

taries, The American Encyclopedia, all of the study course 
books published by the Baptist Sunday School Board, and 
the Bible itself. 

Mr. Suttle has fourteen Bibles which he has used 
throughout the years. These Bibles include a preaching 
Bible presented to him when he was ordained at the age 
of eighteen. It was too large for him to carry around in 
his pocket so Mrs. Suttle preserved it. A grandson, Joe 
Cabiness, Jr., will get it sometime. A student Bible printed 
in Nebraska in 1907 is very profuse with marginal notes. 
A New Testament Bible printed in 1912 shows the Acts 
and the Epistles and Revelation arranged all in parallel 
form. A self-pronouncing Bible printed in Chicago in 
1926 has been used frequently. 

A King James Version printed in 1901 by the Thomas 
Nelson Company is sometimes used. A looseleaf Testament 
printed in Chicago in 1910 was so arranged that Suttle 
could insert any number of sermons between the leaves 
of the Bible. 

He has a red letter Testament printed in 1913. Also, 
the latest edition of the Oxford Testament is in his library. 
A large coarse print Bible was presented to him in 1944 
by Mrs. Forrest Crowder of Lattimore. A Revised Stand- 
ard Version, 1952 edition, was presented by his grandson, 
Joe Cabiness, Jr. Four tiny vest pocket Testaments com- 
plete his armamentarium. 

A lady said recently, "You certainly have seen enough 
and heard enough to satisfy you in your 85 years." John 
replied, "No, I want to keep on seeing, hearing and feeling 
and preaching as long as the Lord lets me live." 

In a speech to the Shelby Kiwanis Club he said recently,* 
"It is true that we in the ministry witness more than any 
other group. Tragedy, heartbreak, hilarious incidents, joy, 
beauty, the gamut of human emotions and experience; 
and a very interesting race is run before our eyes. Yet, the 
hardest spots of our lives are often the most interesting." 

Choice of a sermon has never been too much of a prob- 

"This I Believe" 291 

lem for Brother Suttle because he always kept his ear to 
the ground so closely that he knew what was going on in 
the minds of most of his people. He knew what they 
needed, what they wanted, and what the Lord wanted him 
to do. However, he said that it's not easy for some of the 
younger preachers. Sometimes they are so upset about the 
attitude of their members that he is reminded of a church 
in which the people had worked themselves into an unde- 
sirable state of mind. "The members of this church 
thought they did not want to hear sermons about Missions. 
They didn't want to listen to a man who preached on giv- 
ing. They didn't like evangelism, and they did not like 
current events. Finally, the young minister in that church 
asked one of his friends what he could preach about to 
such a people and the good brother replied, 'Preach on 
the Jews. There's not a Jew in over 200 miles'." 

The Reverend Oliver C. Price, pastor of the First Baptist 
Church of Glen Alpine, North Carolina, recalls the fol- 
lowing Suttle slant on women: 

"While I was a student at Wake Forest and while he 
was president of the State Convention, in a message at the 
Wake Forest Baptist Church he said, 'All some preachers 
can talk about is lipstick, hairdos, paint, and beauty treat- 
ments used by women in the churches.' His solution: 
'Most of them I've seen need it. Let 'em use it. Let 'em 
use it! 

In theology proper, John is as orthodox as the original 
John the Baptist and is as fundamental as the most ardent 
fundamentalist who can quote the New Testament ver- 
batim. He is also modern enough to see eye to eye with 
the needs of a changing world. He has changed with the 
times but strove to keep his people grounded in the New 
Testament. He believes like other Baptists that the basis 
for all authority to establish a Baptist Church or any 
church is the New Testament. He believes that the New 
Testament along with the rest of the Bible is the inspired 
Word of God. The New Testament is the first authority 

292 Canaan in Carolina 

for faith. Every person is himself competent to approach 
God directly. 

For John, a church is "a body of baptized believers who 
have repented of their sins and have willingly joined the 
fellowship of other believers in a congregation which is 
self governed, is democratic and has equal rights for all 
and special privileges to none, including the minister." 

He is not confused like some about what Jesus meant 
in Matthew 16:18 when He said, "Upon this rock I will 
build my church." He believes the reference is made to 
the principles outlined in Peter's confession and not to a 
mortal man around whom an invincible organization 
would be gathered. 

"The New Testament is replete with references to the 
church and to the churches. Some of these bodies of be- 
lievers were in Jerusalem, some away from Jerusalem. Some 
had been visited by Peter, some had not. They had one 
common characteristic. All had believed, and all had been 
baptized. In addition, they had banded themselves to- 
gether in a Christian and democratic fellowship sharing 
and working together. 

"They had two kinds of officers, pastors and deacons. 
The pastor or preacher was called of God, was God in- 
spired, God led, and God directed. He preached and taught 
the Word and cared for the spiritual needs of the little 
band of followers. 

"The deacons cared for the physical needs of the mem- 
bers by name and nature. They were the pastor's helpers." 

"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the head of the church," 
says John. As other Baptists believe, he too, feels that the 
New Testament is the only necessary creed; that it con- 
tains all the rules for faith, practice, repentance, salvation, 
baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the way to eternal life. 
He does not particularly oppose the Apostles' Creed which 
is quoted so often by members of other denominations, 
but he is positive that its quotation has nothing to do with 
salvation or the doing of good works. 

He does believe in God; not only God the Father, but 

"This I Believe" 293 

God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He believes that 
Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, lived in this world as 
a man, was crucified on the cross, later died, and after 
three days rose again and that he ascended to Heaven to 
come back at a later date. 

Like other Baptists he does balk at the use of the term, 
"Holy Catholic Church" because he believes that a church 
is any body of baptized believers and in a more inclusive 
term, all bodies of all baptized believers become the church 
in a general sense. 

He believes the church has two ordinances and that they 
are both ordered, described and outlined in the New Testa- 
ment. These are Baptism which is total immersion and is 
restricted to persons who are old enough to believe and 
profess belief. Another is the Lord's Supper which to 
Baptists is simply a memorial meal in the memory of Jesus. 
Both Baptism and the Lord's Supper are local church 
ordinances. "We must never mistake that these ordinances 
are anything except local; that local members prepare, 
unite in, and partake of these ordinances," he says. 

In inviting Christians to come to the Lord's Supper, 
Brother John was criticized for many years by a few non- 
Baptists for practicing what they called "closed com- 
munion," since usually at the invitation Pastor Suttle 
would ask that all who came and partook be of the "same 
faith and order". 

His explanation, perhaps over-simplified, is that when 
Baptists hold the Lord's Supper, they do not exclude Meth- 
odists or Presbyterians, or other Protestants; neither did 
he necessarily include them. This particular supper is for 
this particular faith and order in memory of Jesus just 
as a certain family may hold a memorial service such as 
a birthday dinner or wedding anniversary celebration for 
a particular member of the family. 

Like other Baptists, John also believes that salvation 
comes first, by God's grace and second, by personal faith 
in Jesus. He believes in a literal Heaven, a literal Hell, and 
a real but timeless eternity. However, he quotes many 

294 Canaan in Carolina 

Scriptures to support his belief that many things will be 
changed. He accepts the physical resurrection of the body, 
the second coming of Christ, and the last judgment. 

John Suttle's program of faith and its practical appli- 
cation in country churches have been so closely tied to 
the New Testament, that actually he has had little time 
for many of the theological and theoretical discussions 
used by many modern ministers. He says the New Testa- 
ment has stood the test of time and will continue to stand. 

Brother John is not greatly concerned with Catholic 
dogma. For him the claim that the pope can make no 
error, ex cathedra or otherwise, simply is not true. For 
him it is not true if the Catholics claim that Mary never 
died but went to Heaven without death. "If these claims 
were in the Bible and especially in the New Testament, I 
would believe them," says he. 

He believes that the pope is a great man. He must be 
a good man to be able to so successfully control an organi- 
zation like the Catholic Church, but he believes that "no 
man, be he priest, prelate, or pope can be infallible." Nor 
is it necessary for an individual to ask a priest, prelate, or 
pope to intercede for him to God. A man can go to God 
in prayer in the pulpit, on the prairie, in the forest or in 
a far-away land. The prayer of Jesus is a model prayer, 
but anyone can pray. Prayer books are not necessary; 
special words are not necessary. One can pray with no 
spoken words at all. Beads not only are not necessary, but 
become confusing and becloud the real purpose of prayer. 

The historical facts and implications of Christ have not 
been lost upon John. In fact, he studied all these things 
thoroughly and has dozens of books upon the subjects. 
He is aware that for many years all Christendom was 
divided as to whether Christ the Son was the same sub- 
stance or similar substance as God the Father. He knows 
that the question was settled, theologically at least, by a 
council of Christian bishops at Nicea in 325 A.D. He is 
aware that from the time of Jesus until 325 A.D. Chris- 
tians in general became Christians by belief and baptism. 

"This I Believe" 295 

From 325 A.D. on for more than one thousand years 
Christians were in the main only believers in Christ be- 
cause their rulers, emperors or war lords believed in Christ. 
Only until after Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to 
the church door in Wittenburg, Germany, was the indi- 
vidual again called upon to examine his conscience to see 
if he could believe or not believe in a personal Saviour 
and personal salvation. 

John has studied all the proposals of the major theo- 
logians of Christian history, but they have done little to 
affect him except to inspire him to do his best. He has 
been as outspoken for his belief as was John Hus or 
Dominicus Savanarola. But in this day and time martyrs 
are burned in a different manner. "In the dark ages, 
Christ's enemies used fire and now our people use indiffer- 
ence," he says. 

So far as I know John Suttle never used the word 
"eschatology" in the pulpit but he knew what it meant 
and no one has a better conviction than he about what 
final things will be such as death, resurrection, and eternal 
life. He very seldom uses the words modernism, or dogma, 
or teleology, but he knows what those words mean and 
talks to his people in simple terms and especially in terms 
used in the New Testament his hearers have read. 

John has believed faithfully in the doctrine of the sep- 
aration of church and state outlined by the United States 
Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and he 
has continually believed it is much better for Christians 
to build their own colleges, their own churches, their own 
charitable institutions, care for their own families and chil- 
dren with their own earnings without aid from a benevo- 
lent government. However, he has felt it very foolish for 
us to allow the whims and notions of a few to completely 
divorce the teachings of the Bible, the Christian religion, 
and morals from our education system, especially in our 
public schools. 

Along this line he is a great admirer of Benjamin Frank- 

296 Canaan in Carolina 

lin who, though no outstanding church man or evangelist, 
was enough of a Christian to say in effect to the framers 
of the constitution in Philadelphia that "if God knows and 
cares enough about the affairs of men to know when a 
sparrow falls, it is inconceivable that an empire can be 
built without Him." 

John does not believe the time should ever come that the 
wall of separation between church and state must become 
so high or so dense that a Christian on one side cannot 
look through the wall and see on the coin of the realm the 
inscription, "In God We Trust". 

He never quoted a prayer prayed by anyone else except 
Jesus, although he was certainly an admirer of all the ele- 
ments mentioned in great prayers such as the prayer at- 
tributed to St. Francis of Assisi. 

He prayed for peace, for pardon; he asked for light, 
joy, and hope; he asked that the bereaved be consoled, that 
material goods be given, that sins be pardoned and that all 
of us have eternal life, but he put it in his own words in 
clear, firm, unmistakable sentences that gave his listeners 
the impression he was talking directly to God and not 
merely quoting some beautiful phrase from a good man 
who lived in the forgotten long ago. 

He is very certain that present day missionary Baptists 
are the true branch of the Baptist Church, and the logical 
defenders and extenders of the Christian religion. He says 
great evidence for this belief is the fact that Southern 
Baptists have grown so rapidly the past two or three gen- 

The split came among Baptists about 150 years ago when 
the Primitive Baptists and the so-called Hardshells and 
other strictly orthodox Baptists gave Missionary Baptists 
the opportunity for expansion. This allowed unprogressive 
and non-Missionary elements to "dry up on the vine" so- 

In his own native county of Cleveland, many years ago 
Presbyterians were most numerous. They were then super- 
seded by the Methodists who flourished by numbers. In 

"This I Believe" 297 

the past fifty years Baptists have grown so rapidly they 
now outnumber all other denominations put together in 
Cleveland County. 

Many of his sermons and much of his theology is sum- 
marized by an unknown author. 

I asked for strength that I might achieve; 

I was made weak that I might learn to obey. 
I asked for health that I might do greater things; 

I was given infirmity that I might do better things. 
I asked for riches that I might be happy; 

I was given poverty that I might be wise. 
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; 

I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. 
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; 

I was given life that I might enjoy all things. 
I received nothing I had asked for — all I had hoped for. 
My prayers were answered. 


Brother John's Journey, A 
Canaan In Carolina 

"Now the Day is Over." 

I have fought a good fight; 
I have finished my course; 
I have kept the jaith. 

II Timothy 4:7 

Intimations of immortality creep closer each year. The 
limitations of mortality are thrusting their shadows across 
his path. John has retired but has not laid down his burden. 

He was visiting in Boiling Springs upon the dedication 
of a new parsonage. The Reverend J. L. Jenkins had just 
retired after 25 years in the ministry and the church had 
called the Reverend John Farrar. At the dedication serv- 
ice Brother John said, "You have just let one mighty good 
preacher go and have got another good young fellow to 
take his place. You folks are so nice to your preachers 
here in letting your old preacher stay in the old parsonage 
and building your new preacher a new house. 

"Now after John Farrar has worn himself out serving 
you for fifty years, I want you to call me!" 

How then shall we measure a man like Brother John? 
Is his often repeated phrase, "I Am Bound for the Promised 


Brother John's Journey, a Canaan in Carolina 299 

Land" enough? Can one measure a deer on the run, a bird 
in flight, or a pilgrim on a journey? Has his work been 
temporary or permanent, or are his inscriptions wide 
enough and deep enough to remain in the hearts of his 
people a generation, a century, or a millennium? Who can 

He has not been strictly a Moses; he has had no Pha- 
roah's princess to claim him; he killed no Egyptians; he 
got no Commandments from Sinai; nor did he perform 
any miracles by throwing his staff on the ground. 

Like Moses he has been successful at times and a failure 
at times. Again like Moses he has made mistakes, bitter 
errors in judgment, steeped in the elements of human 
frailty. "A few times I struck the rock instead of speaking 
softly as God commanded," John admits. "Sometimes the 
water was bitter," he adds. 

In it all he has been a leader of people through an era 
of change, through a "wilderness", as it were, of doubt 
and indecision, of hunger for righteousness and thirst for 

As a youth he went to Little Egypt for corn; he was 
educated in a great seminary, the center of theological 
learning in the South at the time; he was tested in the 
desert of struggling churches in isolated rural, malarious 
Carolina at the turn of the century; if bootleggers could 
be called Philistines, or if indifference of man to the needs 
of his brother could be likened to the Midianites, or the 
vagaries of the weather to the giants of Anak, then Brother 
John has fought most of the preliminary battles for the 
Promised Land. 

Through these battles he led his churches to higher 
ground in Bible teaching, in stewardship, in evangelism, 
and in the unfolding and development of Christian per- 
sonality in the countless thousands who followed him. 

He has seen the population of his state and county mul- 
tiplied 1 5 times over, and in his churches he strove to 
match religious and spiritual growth against secular and 

300 Canaan in Carolina 

political and economic advances in a burgeoning common- 

What then are the factors in his life and personality 
which have made him great, brought him success, the 
accolades of the multitude, the laurel wreath of the win- 
ner, the praise of his fellow pastors and the love of all who 
know him? 

Wherein has he failed to be a man? What have been his 
human weaknesses? Has he been patient? Has he been 
fair? Does he have enemies? If so, does he forgive them? 

What of the unsaved with whom he pleaded seven times, 
and seventy times, but perhaps not seventy times seven? 
Did he always go the second mile and always give the cloak 
as well as the coat? 

Answers to all these questions Brother John does not 
attempt to give. Judgment is referred to a greater Judge 
and a higher court. He has tried to obey God's laws and 
commandments and follow the Golden Rule. His Bible 
does not say what the father must do while waiting for a 
son to come home. 

Some who read this book will remain to praise and others 
will review the story of his life with doubt or even scorn, 
and say like the old mountaineer who went to the circus 
and saw for the first time a giraffe, only to blurt out, 
"There ain't no such animal." 

Others will say that he is a great man, but that he could 
not possibly have done what he did, say what he said, or be 
what he is reported to be. 

Even the simple statistics of his life are staggering. He 
is almost 86 years of age, has actively pastored 37 churches, 
several of them nearly forty years at a time; has been mod- 
erator of a great Association forty years; president of the 
North Carolina Baptist State Convention, twice a vice- 
president; has preached over 30,000 sermons, baptized 
nearly 10,000 converts into the Kingdom, married 2,000 
couples; raised over $1,000,000 in revenue for the King- 

Brother John's Journey, a Canaan in Carolina 301 

dom of God. He collected a salary of $109,352.29 for a 
lifetime of ministry and service in the two Carolinas. 

He has sent from his churches approximately forty 
ordained ministers and hundreds of special workers into 
full time Christian service. Total membership of his 
churches at any one time has never exceeded 1,753 (in 
1938) but aggregate total memberships of all his churches 
during the 65 years of his ministry will run into multiple 
thousands of persons. 

He did not try to become great. He did not want to be 
famous. He has done more. He has become a legend. 
What Daniel Boone is to hunters, what Davy Crockett is 
to small fry, and what Abe Lincoln is to story-tellers, 
John Suttle is to Baptists in North Carolina, especially in 
the counties and churches where he has lived and served. 

A legend in the land of the living! He is a legend in 
church building, money raising, common preaching, home- 
ly philosophy and in the simple religion of country people. 

Never a strong man physically, the tasks he has accom- 
plished have been stupendous. Weighing only 95 to 100 
pounds and appearing to be frail and ascetic, sometimes 
sallow and gray, his sinews are of steel, his nerves of plati- 
num, his will of pig iron, and his heart of pure gold. The 
hard tasks he did at once; the impossible took a little 

Perhaps it was inheritance, the characteristics of his Irish, 
English, and German ancestry, the intelligence and will- 
fulness of his forefathers, the ideas and idealism of his 
grandfather, and the dreams of his mother before he was 
born or while he was in the cradle. He came from a family 
of stalwart pioneers, rugged individualists who carved a 
civilization out of the wilderness of Western North Caro- 
lina. He is akin to the leading families of Cleveland and 
Rutherford Counties. His relatives sit in the high places 
and make the laws, hold the reins of government, turn 
the wheels of industry and commerce. Others follow the 

302 Canaan in Carolina 

plow, work in the home and do the menial tasks of the 
common man. 

He may be great because of the heritage in the section 
where he was born. The settlers came to enjoy religious 
freedom. They loved and feared God. They built their 
homes of stout logs with the sweat of their brow and de- 
fended them with their lives. They chopped out the high- 
ways, built the schools and churches, raised large families 
and worshipped their God. They were not ashamed to 
acknowledge Him or to fall upon their knees and pray to 
Him in their churches, around their tables, or at the hour 
of sleep. Frugality, hard work, temperance, and discipline 
were the rule and not the exception. 

There were, literally and figuratively, giants in those 
days. He had the heritage of constitution f ramers, Indian 
fighters, nation builders, soldiers, and pioneer ministers 
handed down to him. The life of his forebears had not been 
easy and he did not expect life to be easy. 

From the family lines of Suttle, Baxter, Blanton, Ham- 
rick, Wray, Linton, and Harrill which produced Brother 
John, also came a corps of political leaders, statesmen, law- 
yers, physicians, ministers, and public servants scarcely 
equalled by any other family connection in North Caro- 
lina. This family sent Elisha Baxter to be governor of 
Arkansas, two governors to Raleigh, the Bostic family to 
China for almost 200 years of mission service, two judges 
to the Federal and Superior Court bench, several congress- 
men to Washington, and sprinkled Western North Caro- 
lina with scores of public servants. Intermingled with this 
family are the Durhams, Dixons, Webbs, Carpenters, 
Griffins, and Flacks of both Cleveland and Rutherford 

"One reason John Suttle has done well is that he is akin 
to everybody," said one of his friends. 

No doubt, his environment had a great deal to do with 
the making of this man. He had a Christian home. He 
was reared with six brothers and sisters and learned to give 
and take in the battles of life. He learned that to get a 

Brother John's Journey, a Canaan in Carolina 303 

dollar one should give a dollar's worth of labor. His par- 
ents and grandparents were gentle folks, educated, cul- 
tured, refined; yet, hard working, neighborly, Bible read- 
ing, frontier Christians. By their birth and their family 
connections, they were able to take him into the best homes 
and often took him to different churches. 

Early they created in him a desire to want the best of 
everything and to be the best of everything. They pro- 
vided for him the best education of the day, and in addi- 
tion to that, good books and magazines, and invited into 
their home learned men and women who could stimulate 
their children to want to know more. 

His formal training was average and his family training 
above the average. He went to the usual grammar school 
and a military academy but then skipped a college educa- 
tion and went directly to the Seminary where he studied 
homiletics, Bible, history, Greek, English, and other related 
subjects. He did not stay in school long enough to get a 
doctor's degree; neither did he stop studying after he left 

Personality traits may be one of the big contributing 
factors to the success of Brother John. 

"He was as mean as the dickens," said one of his friends 
who knew him as a boy. That doesn't mean there was any- 
thing really wrong with him. It was just his way. As a 
little boy he was full of mischief and curiosity, and would 
rather play tricks upon somebody than to eat when he was 
hungry. From these childhood traits he grew to be known 
as a diplomat, philosopher, optimist, story teller, full of 
humor, and one who could bring either tears or laughter 
with his stories. He was practical, very human, progres- 
sive, interesting, and a natural born leader with genuine 
character. He was educated in spiritual desire and devel- 
oped a dedicated sense of mission. 

Brother John liked the out-of-doors, worked and played 
with horses and dogs, enjoyed a good hunt, and had a wide 
interest in everything, but most of all he knew people by 
their first names and loved them and let them know it. 

304 Canaan in Carolina 

He has the happy faculty of being at home with both 
high and low, the rich and poor, the educated and unedu- 
cated; he is a leader without being pompous, wise in the 
ways of men, but humble as a child. 

Who can say his genius at organization was not as great 
as that of Governor O. Max Gardner, though on a smaller 
scale? O. Max loved him and praised him and envied him, 
often sought his advice. Also, can one not say that his 
total contributions compare favorably with those of Gov- 
ernor Clyde R. Hoey, Author Thomas Dixon, Jr., either 
of the two Judge Webbs or any of the accepted "great" 
of Cleveland County, numbered among the living or dead? 
The impact and impression on many lives testify and say 
Yes to the question. 

John correctly interpreted the age in which he lived. 
He has been able to understand the past, the present, and 
the future and has tied the three together. 

When the final story is written, no doubt the judges 
will say that churches like New Bethel, Double Shoals, 
Double Springs, and Beaver Dam, and all of the others, 
had much to do with the molding and making of the final 
product of Brother John. The elders, deacons, and mem- 
bers were of the same stock and had the same purpose for 
their lives. They were faithful, able, and earnest. They 
bore him up, pushed him to the front and followed his 
leadership. Like a great army they executed the plans of 
their general. 

Without his churches, John Suttle would have been 
simply another good man. 

His preaching is simple and his manner direct. By the 
usual rules of preaching, his grade would be high. He gets 
perfect audience attention. He is neither prosaic nor dull. 
He has lifted a vast concourse of preachers, deacons, and 
visitors literally out of their seats and vaulted them to 
profound spiritual heights. He can do this with ready wit, 
sound approach, sound philosophy, convincing logic, 



883* ;««©*- 

Brother John's Journey, a Canaan in Carolina 305 

poignant truths, and apt illustrations from his broad expe- 
rience and practical application. 

He grew up in the day of the old-time preachers who 
led their audience to tears by shouting with quavering 
voices in a sing-song rhythm as they chanted the Scrip- 
tures, or exhorted to repentance and salvation, or described 
the heavenly glories of Christian experience. 

From among those giants of oratory Brother John 
emerged with a shrill, high-toned voice which was yet un- 
mistakably clear and plain. For his preaching he received 
reward often, praise upon praise, the best of which was 
described by an eight year old boy, "I understand all he 

Unspoiled by praise, he took the honors piled upon him 
in simple grace. Upon his 60th Anniversary in the min- 
istry, more than 3,000 friends gathered in the Shelby ball 
park to pay him honor and to give him a new automobile. 
Again upon the completion of 65 years in the ministry, 
10,000 people crowded into the grandstand of the Cleve- 
land County Fair to shower him with praise and gifts to 
be added to the Suttle Memorial Endowment at Gardner- 
Webb College. These acts of love belie the old saying "A 
prophet is not without honor save in his own country." 
Through it all his attitude was: "This is all entirely un- 
necessary. I enjoy it, of course, but what I have done, I 
have done simply for my Lord and Master, Jesus." 

Love for his wife and family have contributed their 
share to the making of this unique human. There is one 
incident in his family life he is sure to remember. It was 
the time they lived in Smithfield and he had to leave for 
Raleigh. He was in such a hurry after sleeping late that 
he barely had time to put on a few clothes and catch the 
train. He left the house with collar and tie in hand and 
did not take time to say good-bye. 

In a matter of hours the train wrecked. While it hurtled 
down the embankment with some passengers being killed 

306 Canaan in Carolina 

and others injured, Brother John said, in that moment 
when he was flying through the air and the car turned 
over and over, that he made up his mind in a twinkling: 
"If I ever get through this horrible nightmare I will never 
leave home again without telling my wife and children 

"I thought if I had only taken time to say good-bye I 
would have missed the train and the wreck. If I had been 
killed it would have been a terrible thing to report to Saint 
Peter that my wife and children were down at Smithfield, 
but that I had not had time to say good-bye," he said. 

First things first has been his passion. Like the old 
Puritan preacher of John Bunyan's pen, he has his eye 
upon heaven. His Bible is always in his hand, the world 
is at his back, the earth is at his feet, and truth is always 
upon his lips. With this faith he has been able to lengthen 
the shadows of the great ministers of the past who have 
gone before him and to extend their shadows in his sons 
of the ministry who are to take his mantle whenever it 

Other ingredients which must be mentioned are his good 
health habits and temperance in all things; punctuality, 
regularity, methodical and systematic ways. These have 
required will power and won't power, to coin a phrase. 

And last, but not least, is a circular letter to a district 
Association, written by a relative over a century ago, out- 
lining the simple principles of a New Testament church 
and demonstrating what a called and dedicated minister 
must do to lead such a church. (See Appendix.) 

He is popular but he does not fear unpopularity. He 
tells people what the Lord wants them to know and what 
he thinks they ought to do. On one occasion at a small 
rural church which had promised him $200 for the year's 
work, he came to the end of twelve months and the sum 
had not been paid. 

"I needed the money. I had to buy groceries just like 
everybody else. I preached about money that day and 
asked for an explanation, saying that there had been such 

Brother John's Journey, a Canaan in Carolina 307 

an agreement, and lo and behold!, the members of the 
church came up and put the money on the table. There 
was not only the $200 that I had been promised but an 
extra hundred dollars. They had the money in their pock- 
ets all the time!" 

John has more time for thinking, now that eight and a 
half decades of the journey are over. Sometimes in order 
to do his thinking more clearly, he rides out to one of the 
rural churches where he and his grandfather used to 
preach. From a promontory overlooking a small stream 
he can look in all directions, forward and backward, both 
in space and time, almost to eternity. 

Across this pleasant little stream is a green meadow, 
just beyond some cultivated fields, and farther in the dis- 
tance a group of purple hills gently lifting themselves to 
meet the blue sky. This panorama seems to beckon to him 
with a message, "Brother John, your journey is almost over. 
Here is your Jordan. Before you is your Promised Land. 
Cross over and take possession." Wistfully, and with a 
wishful eye, he surveys the scene and leans forward in 
expectation, almost takes a step downward to the water's 

But no! The time is not yet. While waiting for the 
Lord to name the day and the hour, John can look back- 
ward over the years and think of the concourse of events 
and happenings which brought him to his Jordan and his 

Some of his thoughts he puts into words while others 
flit through his consciousness and conscience in the nature 
of a prayer, or of a wish, or of desires filled, or of longings 
still empty and unsatisfied. Were he inclined, he might 

"I wouldn't change a thing. I am perfectly satisfied 
with the way God has protected and cared for me and with 
the marvelous way Jesus has loved me, blessed me, and 
saved me. The only thing I would change is people, includ- 

308 Canaan in Carolina 

ing myself. I'd try to be a little more understanding, a 
little more forgiving, a little more like Jesus. 

"How I wish I could have done more. The time seems 
so short, my efforts so feeble, my talents so few. 

"If my life can be likened to a journey to a promised 
land, and I think it can, then I am so grateful for my 
Guide and Leader. If I have been a guide and leader, I 
thank God for my followers, especially for my sons in the 
ministry and for the few Joshuas, the Calebs, the Gideons 
and the Deborahs who helped me. 

"Thank God for the churches. For all the churches I 
have worked in, and for all the churches everywhere, at 
home and overseas. I love the churches and their fellow- 
ship and hope they will grow and expand and multiply 
until every person in the wide world can hear and bow to 
the name of Jesus. 

"I am also thankful to God for my troubles. Everybody 
has trouble. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly up- 
ward. Like the Apostle Paul I have had a deep sorrow, a 
personal burden in my life. It has bothered me, perplexed 
me and sorely tried me. It has also strengthened me and 
increased my faith. I have tried to be a good minister, a 
good neighbor, a good father, and a good husband. 

"Of all my trouble, and of all your troubles, too, I can 
only say that these things we do not understand. We see 
through a glass darkly, but one day we will see clearly and 
will understand. We will see as we are seen. We will see 
all and know all, and will be happy in Jesus. 

"When I have crossed my Jordan I know I shall see all 
the saints who have gone before me. My parents and 
grandparents will be there; my friends will be there; the 
ones I leave behind will join me in that happy land. All 
who name the name of Jesus will be reunited there. And 
I shall know them and greet them. This fact I now know 
better than anything else in this world." 

Then lifting his eyes to the far horizon, and with an ear 
turned slightly to catch the first strains of victorious 

Brother John's Journey, a Canaan in Carolina 309 

celestial music, the man we have known in this story as 
"Brother John" says with fervor: 

"Finally, and most of all, thank God for the JOURNEY 

and for CANAAN." 




1. Will of George Suttle. 

2. Will of Joseph Suttle. 

3. Eulogy to Joseph Suttle. 

4. Early Baptist Pioneers. 

5. Circular letter to Kings Mountain Association, 185 5. 


"In the Name of God, Amen! 

"I, George Suttle, of the county of Rutherford, being at present 
very sick and weak of body, but of perfect mind and memory, thanks 
to Almighty God, calling to mind the mortality of my body, knowing 
that it is appointed for all men to die, do make and ordain this my 
last will and testament, revoking all others heretofore made by me. 

"First, principally, I resign my soul to God who gave it, trusting 
in His eternal goodness. My body I commit to the earth to be 
buried decently at the discretion of my executors, and as to the 
worldly goods that it has pleased God to bless me with in this life 
I give and dispose of in the following manner: 

"First, my will is that all of my just debts be paid. 

"Secondly, I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife, Nancy 
Suttle, Dassa, a negro woman, Frank and Matilda her two 
children; also Ned, a negro boy, to be by her held, and enjoyed in 
her own right during his natural life, and after her decease the 
said Negroes with their increase, if any, to be equally divided 
among my children. My will further is that all my livestock of 
every description that I shall die possessed, shall be and remain 
in the possession of my wife to be used toward the support of my 
family during their minority and for the benefit of the whole during 
their continuance together, unless in the opinion of my wife and 
my executors there is or should be more than necessary for their 
support, then and in that case I would advise or rather my will is 
that the surplus be disposed of to the best advantage and equally 
divided among my children. Further, as respecting my household 
furniture and implements of husbandry and working tools of every 
description, including the whole of my personal estate (not other- 
wise disposed of) my will is that it be and remain in the possession 
of my wife to be used for the support and maintenance of my chil- 
dren during their minority or continuance together. And further, 


Appendix 311 

my will is if any of my sons or daughters, after arriving at full 
age, should marry or separate themselves from the family that then 
and in that case that each of my children shall receive a bed and 
furniture of value or any other article that in the opinion of my 
said wife and executors can be spared out of the common stock 
and they dispose of to be accounted for in their distributive share. 

"Further, my will is that the residue of my Negroes, vis: Winny, 
Violet, Ben, Lewis, Jacob, Jack, Jerry, Jenny, Harry, Harriett, 
Suckey, Celia, Davie, Lucy, and their increase, if any, shall at the 
expiration of three years and six months from date, which shall 
be the first day of August 1819, be valued by five judicious men 
of good repute, who is to be nominated by the county court of 
Rutherford at the July term immediately preceding the aforesaid 
day of August, and providing the whole of them does not attend 
on the day of days set apart for the purpose that those who of that 
number do attend shall supply the number absent by the men of 
their own choice, having respect to their character as aforesaid — 
that the real value they ascertained of my said Negroes shall be 
divided into lot agreeable to the number of my children, to wit: 
William Byars Suttle, Sarah, Elizabeth, Joseph, Benjamin, Nancy, 
George, Susannah and John Suttle — that in apportioning the said 
lots care shall be taken to make each lot as equal as possible, con- 
sistent with justice and humanity, which said lottery shall be con- 
ducted in an open and fair manner in the presence of said com- 
missioners and my executors — that immediately on the aforesaid 
division taking place, those of my children who are of full age will 
be entitled to their distribution share of said Negroes agreeable 
to said agreement, liable to the demand of the legaties if there 
should be any excess in those to be divided, and to be accounted 
for in the manner that my executors shall deem most advisable, and 
for these my will is that until the expiration of the term aforesaid 
my Negroes shall be continued in the possession of my wife and 
employed for the benefit of the whole in providing what is neces- 
sary for their subsistence. 

"And further, my will is that my said wife remain in possession 
of the whole of my buildings, orchard, land, instruments and im- 
provements that I died possessed of to be used and cultivated dur- 
ing her natural life for the support of herself and such of my 
children as shall continue to live with her and under her care and 
as respects that portion of my estate that shall fall to the lot of 
my children who are under age, particularly three Negroes. I leave 
it with my dear wife and my executors to manage according to 
their discretion in hiring or employing it on the premises toward 
the maintenance of the family, and further and finally my will is 
that after the death of my said wife that the whole of my lands 

312 Canaan in Carolina 

with all the appurtainences thereto with every other species of my 
property of whatsoever description not otherwise disposed of shall 
be sold in an open and fair manner, and equally divided among 
my children, so as to make the whole of their distribution shares 
equal, and in order that this my last will, be duly executed I nomi- 
nate and appoint my loving and dutiful son William B. Suttle, and 
my trusty friends William McKinney and George McKinney to 
be sole executors of this my last will and testament. In witness 
whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this first day of 
February, 1816. 

George Suttle 
Signed, sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us the sub- 
scribing witnesses. 

Johanathan Hampton 

A. Miller 





Know all men by these present that I, Joseph Suttle, of the 
aforesaid county and state being in sound state of mind, but labor- 
ing under the afflicting hand of Almighty God and feeling that my 
time may be short on this earth, I therefore make this my last will 
and testament. 

Art. 1st — I give my body to its kindred dust and my soul to 
God who gave it. 

Art. 2nd — I order that my funeral expenses and all my honest 
debts be paid. 

Art. 3rd — I will and bequeath to my beloved wife Elizabeth 
Elvira Suttle all my personal and real estate to hold 
and keep during her natural life or widowhood but 
should she marry, I then order that two thirds of all 
my property above mentioned be sold and equally 
distributed among my children at each coming to the 
age of 21 years, and that the remaining third be given 
to my wife to keep and hold forever. 

Art. 4th — I order and will all the moneys due me be collected 
and appropriated to the payment of my debts, if they 
should fall short of paying these debts I order the 

Appendix 313 

remainder of a tract of land in Rutherford County 
known as the Mill Tract to be sold and used to pay 
the remainder of my debts. Should there be money 
left on hand after all my debts be paid, I order that 
it be given to my wife for her own benefit and the 
benefit of my children. 

Art. 5th — I order and appoint my wife, Elizabeth E. Suttle, 
Executrix and John Blanton Executor to this my last 
will and testament whereunto I have set my hand and 
seal in the presence of 
Elijah Eskridge 
J. A. L. Wray 

This 24th day of May, 1861 
Joseph Suttle (SEAL) 


Messrs. Editors: — How brief and uncertain is life? Truly it is a 
vapor that appeareth for a little while and then vanishes away! 
To the brevity and uncertainy of life all are to the record. Hence 
in the mysterious dispensation of God's providence it becomes my 
sad duty to notice the death of our much esteemed and beloved 
brother, Elder Joseph Suttle: he departed this life on the 26th 
day of May, 1861. 

In his death the community has lost one of its brightest orna- 
ments and noblest characters. It is indeed with grief that we have 
to record the loss which the Baptist church has sustained in the 
early departure of this good and noble man. No one did more for 
the promotion of Christ's Kingdom, none would have done more 
for its success. It lay near his devoted heart while he was among 
us, and is perhaps an object of deep interest and solicitude to him 
in the mansions of eternal bliss. 

Brother Suttle was born in Rutherford County on the 25th of 
April 1827 and was baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist 
Church at Concord in 1845. Feeling himself called of God to the 
great and responsible work of this gospel ministry, he was ordained 
to preach in 1849 in which capacity he labored most efficiently up 
to the time of his death for it was in the strength of years and in 
the midst of his great usefulness that it was said, "The Master 
calleth for thee." That summons he, like the great apostle of the 
Gentiles, obeyed; not with grief but with joy feeling that for him 
to live was Christ but to die was gain. 

He, like a soldier, fell at his post with sword in hand. He has 
been the pastor at Double Springs for twelve years (with the 

314 Canaan in Carolina 

exception of one year) and we feel assured that his labors at that 
place have been abundantly blessed; and the church, in his death, 
has sustained a loss not easily repaired. Although he had but little 
education, he displayed talents of the highest order and preached 
the Gospel of Christ with an ability rarely equalled. 

His holy life well illustrated the doctrine of regeneration which 
was his zeal for the cause of Christ and knowledge of the Bible 
that those who engaged with him on religious topics always re- 
ceived appropriate religious instruction. But why speak more of 
the virtues of this great and noble man? For it is difficult to convey 
a correct idea of his worth and merit to strangers! We presume 
it is already known and appreciated by all who wish to do him 
justice. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. 

Brother Suttle has left a truly devoted and affectionate wife, 
four lovely and interesting children and a large circle of friends to 
mourn his irreparable death. But they sorrow not without hope, 
for their mourning is rendered joyful by the bright anticipation of 
meeting him where parting is unknown. 

A day or two before his death, he called his devoted wife and 
children to his bedside and imparted to them that counsel and 
instruction which a pious Christian husband and father is capable 
of giving. 

May the consolation of the ever blessed gospel calm all the 
troubles of our bereaved sister and teach her sweetly to submit to 
her Heavenly Father who doeth all things well and does not will- 
ingly afflict those who love him; and may the dear children of our 
deceased brother imitate the example of their loving father and 
become flowers of the blessed Redeemer that they may be prepared 
to meet Him in that happy land where no parting tears are ever 

And now my dear sister, be assured that you have the sympathy 
of many warm hearts and permit me to say that I have no doubt 
but lost loved one is reaping his reward in heaven; and that the 
God of Elijah will assist you in raising your fatherless children. 
May the Lord bless you and yours. — 

J. H. Yarboro 


Elder Drury Dobbins was born April 7, 1776, in York County, 
South Carolina. Mr. Dobbins did not have any formal education 
except for the old field school curriculum. He was for a time an 
active deacon in the church at State Line. Mr. Dobbins entered 

Appendix 315 

the ministry at the age of twenty. Along with being so young, he 
was handicapped by not having a real knowledge of the English 
grammar. This did not block the way for him because with the help 
of the Holy Spirit, he realized he was not defeated. 

Elder Dobbins was very firm and frank in all his beliefs. His 
theology was based on the New Testament from which he proved 
many arguments and debates among his members. Mr. Dobbins 
had been accused of opposing missions and education, but this was 
not a true statement. However, he did say that he did not agree 
with the idea of educating a young man with the hopes of making 
a minister out of him. "Ministers are called of God and not made 
by men," he said. 

Elder Dobbins was about 5'10" tall, weighed 200 pounds, had 
black hair and eyes. He died May 19, 1847. 

Elder Josiah Durham was born April 6, 1801, in Rutherford 
County, North Carolina. At the age of 28 he joined the Sandy Run 
Baptist Church under the pastoral care of Elder Drury Dobbins. 
In 1835, Josiah was licensed by this church to go out and preach, 
and in 1839, he was ordained into the full work of a minister. Mr. 
Durham died August 2, 1840. Although his time on this earth was 
short, he was considered a very acceptable minister of the Gospel. 

Elder Columbus Durham was born April 28, 1844, in Rutherford 
County, North Carolina. He became a member of the High Shoals 
Church in the Kings Mountain Association. Soon afterward he 
had to serve his country in the Confederate States Army but his 
Christian character even found its place there. Columbus was 
blessed countless times by conducting prayer meetings among the 
servicemen. After his discharge from the army, Mr. Durham en- 
rolled at Wake Forest College and was graduated in 1871. 

Elder John Swilliving Ezell was born January 29, 1825, in Spar- 
tanburg County, South Carolina. He was licensed to preach in 
1841 by the Buck Creek Baptist Church. Later Elder John moved 
into the Broad River Association of North Carolina and was chosen 
to be Moderator in 1873-74. 

Education for this man was not a reality as far as a formal edu- 
cation was concerned. He made the statement, "In my school days 
I never saw an English grammar. When I married I could not read 
a chapter in the New Testament correctly; my wife aided me 
greatly in learning to read." 

Elder Landrum Cicero Ezell was born May 16, 1843, in Spar- 
tanburg County, South Carolina. He was baptized by his father, 

316 Canaan in Carolina 

Elder John S. Ezell, and licensed to preach by the Macedonia 

Unlike his father, Elder L. C. was a scholar in English and 
engaged himself in teaching school. At the time of his ordination, 
Brother Ezell belonged to a church in Shelby but later went back 
to the Spartanburg body and became Moderator of the Association. 

Elder Pleasant Daniel Gold was born March 25, 1833, in Cleve- 
land County, North Carolina. At twenty years of age he joined 
Double Springs Baptist Church and was baptized by Elder Joseph 

Mr. Gold was married to Miss Julia Pipkins of Goldsboro, North 
Carolina, by Elder N. B. Cobb. Elder Gold states, "that a few years 
after this I was very much exercised about my own condition 
and afterward became convinced that salvation is of the Lord Jesus 
who is the righteousness of His people. I also was for years much 
exercised concerning the doctrine and practices of the Missionary 
Baptists and becoming convinced that they did not hold the doc- 
trine of God our Savior, and had also departed from the ancient 
landmarks in accepting so many institutions of men, my mind was 
irresistibly led to the Primitive Baptists. 

"I united with them and was baptized by Elder C. B. Hassell at 
Kehukee Church, Halifax County, North Carolina, on the second 
Sunday in March, 1870, since which time I have been with them, 
and having obtained mercy of the Lord, I continue to this present." 

Elder George Pinckney Hamrick was born August 23, 1849, in 
Cleveland County, North Carolina. He joined the Boiling Springs 
Baptist Church in August 1863, and was licensed to preach in 
1874 after which he entered college at Wake Forest. He was a good 
pastor, very acceptable preacher, a good worker and endeavored 
to carry out Missions, Sunday School work and all phases of the 
Church program. 

This statement has been made of Elder Hamrick: "His style of 
preaching is argumentative and persuasive, mixed with much ten- 
derness and melting pathos." 

Elder Berryman Hicks was born July 1, 1778, in Spartanburg 
County, South Carolina. Mr. Hicks was generally attractive in 
appearance, being above the ordinary height and weighing from. 
250 to 300 pounds. His hair was dark and his eyes hazel. In 1800 
he became a member of the State Line Church and attended ses- 
sions of the Broad River Association in Rutherford County, North 
Carolina. Elder Hicks was ordained to preach in 1808 and went 

Appendix 317 

about preaching the Gospel everywhere. He and Elder Drury 
Dobbins worked much together. 

"Elder Hicks was a great revivalist, and by his persuasive, tender 
and pathetic manner, he, through divine grace, accomplished much 
apparent good in building up a religious interest which at that 
time was in a drooping and depressed condition." 

Along with being a great preacher, Mr. Hicks exercised his abili- 
ties in science and literature. He was a good orator and wrote 
some poetry. 

Elder Wade Hill was born July 21, 1813, in Rutherford County, 
North Carolina. He was a self-educated man and became a preach- 
er with few equals. As Brother Suttle, Mr. Hill's heart was strongly 
enlisted in all the benevolent works of our Convention and Asso- 

After his death in 1878, these resolutions were made by the 
Green River Association: Resolved — 

1. That we deeply sympathize with the bereaved family 
who have sustained the loss of such a husband and 

2. That we sympathize with our sister, the Green River 
Association in the loss of such an excellent minister. 

3. That we pray God may, in the abundance of His good- 
ness and plentitude of His mercies, grant that these 
sad afflictions may work out for us a far more exceed- 
ing and eternal weight of glory. 

Elder Hill was six feet tall, weighed 200 pounds, and had dark 
hair and eyes. He was one of the most dignified looking men 
around. Everyone, stranger or not, paid attention to him whenever 
he spoke. 

Elder Jacob Asbury Hoyle was born March 21, 1850, in Burke 
County, North Carolina. His parents moved to Cleveland County 
when young Hoyle was only two years old. His father was a school 
teacher and Jacob took advantage of going to school. 

When he was 19, Jacob married Miss Ellen Crowder and later 
moved to Gaston County where he lived near Cherryville. He was 
converted under Rev. A. C. Irvin and was licensed to preach in 
March 1881. He did Missionary work in the Kings Mountain Asso- 

Elder James Milton Webb was born October 7, 1802, in Ruther- 
ford County, North Carolina. He was licensed to preach in 1834 

318 Canaan in Carolina 

by High Shoals Church and later became clerk of the Broad River 
Association. He was appointed to preach the introductory sermon 
in 1837. After the Broad River Association split to form a second 
Association, Mr. Webb became Moderator of the New Green River 

Before he entered the ministry, Mr. Webb served several times 
in the legislature of the state. He also was elected clerk of the 
Superior Court which office he held for sixteen years. 

Being married twice, Mr. Webb had sixteen children of which 
only one became a minister. All of them professed religion. 

Elder Webb died April 24, 1854. 


The King's Mountain Baptist Association, to the 
Churches in Union — 


Dear Brethren: — According to an appointment of last Associa- 
tion, we address you upon the subject of Missions. 

In entering upon the discussion of the subject, we would implore 
the assistance and direction of that Spirit which guides in the way 
of all truth. The subject of Missions is one of vast importance 
and vital interest. It would fill an angel's hand or a Savior's heart. 
This subject ought to interest every Christian, for by this means, 
the nations of the earth are to be given to the Son as an inheritance, 
and the utmost parts of the earth for a possession. Therefore let 
us love and esteem it, and especially because our suffering Savior 
was himself a missionary, and says, "this is the way, walk ye in it." 

Christ was the embodiment and living illustration of divine 
goodness. The whole history of His earthly career may be compre- 
hended in a single sentence. "He went about doing good." For 
this, He came into the world. For this, He lived, suffered and at 
last died on the cross. He brought all the resources of His God- 
head and the office of His Sonship to carry on the great work of 
doing good. He became poor that we, through His poverty, might 
become rich. He took of the things of the Father and showed them 
unto us. He cared not for comfort, human rank nor honor. He 
strove not for a crown nor a kingdom of this world. 

His ambition (if we may so speak) was only to do good. To 
accomplish His mission He took a place among the most humble, 
and carefully ministered to the wants of all. Every line is an 
emblem of benevolence. Go with us to the garden, dear brethren, 

Appendix 319 

behold the Savior in the stillness of the night giving vent to the 
agonizing emotions of His soul! He is bowed to the ground, and 
as the load of excruciating agony weighs upon Him, O! what grief 
and sorrow! See the bloody sweat falling to the ground. Why all 
this? For the good of man. Behold Him in the judgment hall, 
suffering abuse and in Calvary. He is there nailed to the wood. 
Thus He bleeds and dies! Why all this intense suffering? To do 
good unto men. Yes, says the opposer of missions, that is the kind 
of missionary we want, that will do all the good he can and have 
nothing for it. 

But this character should remember that, although the Savior 
was able to multiply the few loaves and fishes to feed a host in 
the wilderness, and could fast forty days and forty nights, yet He 
made it the duty of the people to minister unto Him, and they 
did so. "And Joana and Susanna and many others ministered unto 
Him of their substance" (Luke vii:3). Just so He would have His 
people act toward His ministers, in this and every other age of 
the world. Although He could feed them, as they did Elijah, yet 
He says His ministers shall not go at warfare at his own expense 
but they that preach the Gospel shall live of the Gospel. 

Notwithstanding the Savior was a great blessing to the world, 
while He was upon earth, yet He says, it is needful for the world 
"that I go away." So in the absence of the Savior, the great work 
of diffusing abroad the light of eternal truth, was committed to 
the church. This church is that kingdom, that shall break in pieces 
all other kingdoms of the earth, and shall stand forever as a monu- 
ment to the glory of its author. This glorious kingdom is the light 
of the world; it is the instrumentality, by means of which, the 
world is to be regenerated and saved. This heavenly kingdom of 
holiness and love, is the church of the living God, the pillar and 
ground of the truth. To this church has been committed a sacred 
treasure. It is the truth as it is in Jesus. This truth has been com- 
mitted to the church, and it is able to save the soul, being the 
eternal truth of God, and it is the duty of the church to sustain, 
preserve and promulgate it in the world. How energetic then ought 
the church to be in the cause of missions! Founded herself, on the 
rock of eternal ages, she is destined to be the means of upholding 
the truth in the world. She has received, that she may impart it 
to others. Her mission is a mission of mercy to the lost sons and 
daughters of men. 

But, we regret to say, that she does not exert that influence and 
power to save a sinking world, that she ought. There are several 
things that clog the wheels of Zion, and weaken her power which 
tend to retard her progress in the conversion of the world, one of 

320 Canaan in Carolina 

which we shall notice: Division of Sentiment. This is one great 
obstacle to the onward march of Zion, especially in regard to the 
nature of her mission. While some are trying to push on the car 
of salvation they meet with a great deal of opposition, even from 
their brethren, by reason of conflicting views; owing to this cause 
she has lost that simplicity, peace and unity which her dying Savior 
prayed might be hers forever; and while the world He came to 
save is going down to death, she is wasting her time and strength 
in mutual broils and controversies about the nature of her mission, 
which she ought long ago to have known. And what is the cause 
of all this division of sentiment with its ruinous train of conse- 
quences? The history of the past eighteen hundred years attests 
the truth that it is, in consequence of partiality, prejudice, educa- 
tion or tradition; for the first breathings of a newly-converted soul 
is, that God's kingdom might come, and over all prevail, which 
would continue to be the case, if the judgment was not warped by 
some of the things above mentioned. 

Oh! would she but emerge from under the clouds of ignorance 
in which she is involved, and shake herself from every clog, and 
execute her mission more fully! How mighty would be her energies 
in the subjugation of the world, and how like the voice of God 
would her voice be sounded through the abodes of unbelief and 
sin! But instead of these, many, it seems, would lock the wheels 
of salvation, and impede the progress of the angel that flies in the 
midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach unto 
men; and instead of converting the world to God, we fear they 
have become themselves partially converted to the world. O! would 
the church but arise above the dim and murky atmosphere of 
earth and lay hold with a deathless grasp upon the immutable 
promises of God! what a revolution would be wrought in her 
feelings and views! and how bright would be that light which she 
would scatter throughout the world! for the church is destined 
to be the great fountain of light to a guilty world — the reservoir 
from which is to flow forth the streams of salvation to a perishing 

Her mission will not be accomplished until every nation on earth 
shall acknowledge the Lord and be made the recipients of that 
truth which she was commissioned to preach, — not until the heathen 
shall be given to the Son as an inheritance, and the utmost parts 
of the earth for a possession. 

The church is said to look forth as the morning sun that illumi- 
nates the earth, rises higher and higher, scattering the shades of 
night and lighting up this dark earth until every valley and remote 
candle of the church was lit up more than eighteen hundred years 
ago, and has been looking forth, from that time down to the pres- 

Appendix 321 

ent. Though for eighteen centuries she has been buffeted by the 
waves of persecution and by false brethren, and though the light- 
nings have played around her, and clouds and darkness have 
involved her, yet her course is onward — still she glides along, 
spreading wider and wider the light of eternal Truth — being guided 
by the light of the past and the infallible Word of God; but let us 
look down through the vista of the future, that we may learn the 
future triumphs of the church: here a glorious prospect lies before 
us. The effects she has already wrought are but the presage of 
her future triumphs; yet she can not triumph without a conflict. 
Then let every Christian pray, let the conflict come — we will not 
remain idle spectators of the scene; we will enter the field of battle 
under the blood-stained banner of the cross; we will raise the Son 
of righteousness higher and higher until every valley and dark 
corner of the earth is lit up by His rays, and His glory shall cover 
the earth as the waters cover the basin of the great deep. 

Then, dear brethren, we should look abroad and see that dark- 
ness yet covers the earth, and gross darkness the people. Look 
over the briny deep, and there behold mothers sacrificing their 
children to appease the wrath of their deities, made with their 
own hands! and where is the Christian that is not willing to lend a 
helping hand to rescue innocent babes from being crushed before 
the wheels of the great car of juggernaut? That Christian ought 
not to be found on the face of the earth. 

We remember once asking an anti-missionary if one of his chil- 
dren was carried to a heathen land and left in that dark and 
benighted country, if he would be willing that some missionary 
should be sent to preach the Gospel to that child, and the only 
answer he gave us was, "that alters the case." Now, we awfully 
fear this is the case with too many. Because the heathen are not 
their children, according to the flesh, they are concerned but little 
about them. How much more praiseworthy and Christian-like the 
conduct of a noble-hearted lady in one of the great cities of the 
Union, when she discovered a frightened horse running away with 
a vehicle, and a little child therein, she became so distressed as to 
immediately run out into the street and cry aloud for some efforts 
to be made to save the child! her daughter at the same time rebuk- 
ing her and telling her that "it was not her child!" "I know it" 
she replied, "but it is someone's child." Let us rather act the part 
of this good, tender-hearted lady, and let us also act the Good 
Samaritan — not pass by our fellow -creatures in distress or in a 
perishing condition and have no compassion on them. Let us also 
act the part of the little maid that was taken captive by the 
Assyrians out of the land of Israel, who waited on Naaman's wife, 

322 Canaan in Carolina 

who said: "Would to God that my Master was with the prophet 
in Samaria, for he would recover him of his leprosy." 

We should not only be missionaries in word, but in deed and 
in truth, for when it was necessary that the house of the Lord 
should be built at Jerusalem, (Ezra 1:5) "there rose up the chief 
of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites, 
with all them whose spirit God has raised to go up to build the 
house of the Lord; and all they that were about them strengthened 
their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, and with goods, with 
beasts, and with many precious things." Shall we be less char- 
itable and willing to strengthen the hands of the men of God, who 
are going to and fro in the earth, to establish the house of the 
Lord in all the world, by giving our substance to send the Bible, 
and the man of God to the heathens, who have never heard of 
God, that they might call on Him and be saved? 

Another example, when the demoniac of Gadara was brought 
to his right mind, (Mark v. 19, 2) Jesus said unto him, "Go home 
to thy friends and tell them how great things the Lord has done 
for thee," and he departed and began to publish in Decapolis, how 
great things Jesus had done for him and all men did marvel." 
Ought not we as Christians to do the same, and if some of us can- 
not publish the truth abroad we can support those that can, and 
we must do it if we do our duty. 

Another example, (Luke 11:17) When the angels of the Lord 
had informed the shepherds that a Savior was born in Bethlehem, 
the shepherds immediately made known abroad the sayings that 
was told them concerning the Child. And cannot we, dear breth- 
ren, make known abroad, that Jesus is not only born into the world, 
but that He has suffered, died, and rose again for the justification 
of all that believe on Him. This we can do by loosing the hands 
of our ministers, while we say with the poet: 

"Go messengers of peace and love, 
To sinners plunged in shades of night, 
Like Gabriel sent from fields above, 
Be yours to shed celestial light." 

And let it be in deed, as well as word, for there are many that 
say and do not. 

Another example, and this ought to shame many called Chris- 
tians, who have rendered so little to the Lord for all his benefits. 
(Luke xvii. 15-18) "When Jesus had healed ten lepers, and one 
of them when he saw that he was healed, turned back and with a 
loud voice glorified God, and Jesus answered and said, "Were 
there not ten cleansed, and where are the nine?" Is it possible 
that nine Christians out of ten just sit down and never glorify God 

Appendix 323 

in carrying out that great commission, "Go ye into all the world 
and preach the Gospel to every creature?" "Go ye therefore and 
teach all nations." But perhaps the nine says, this command is 
only to the tenth to-wit: the minister, and we are exempt. Let 
them take notice when the Savior ascended on high as the captain 
of our salvation, He gave gifts unto men, and doubtless some of 
these gifts were the ministry of the cross, and they are servants 
of the church, and are to obey her Gospel calls and orders. They 
are represented as the servants of the church, serving the church 
as an ox serves his owner. Suppose A was to bid your servant to 
come and labor in his farm, and at the same time had no power 
or authority to say to you to send him, what would it avail? Then, 
you see, dear brethren, that the command is to both, it is to the 
minister to go, and to the church at the same time to send him. 
And if the minister refuses to go, he should remember that "woe 
is me if I preach not the Gospel"; and if the church refuse to send 
and enable him to go, she should remember that it is written "woe 
unto them that are at ease in Zion." 

We should be willing at least to devote some of our substance 
and time to the Lord, but this is very hard for some to do, and 
they will contend that it is not their duty. But what says the law 
and the testimony? (I Chron. xxix. 4-6) In the building of the 
temple David shows his liberality and says that he had given even 
three thousand talents of silver, and then says, who then is willing 
to consecrate his services this day to the Lord? Then, dear breth- 
ren, the church of Christ is to be built up in all the world; and 
if it required gold and silver in the days of David, to carry on the 
work of the Lord, why not now? Do we suppose the Lord has 
lowered His demands in consequence of the covetousness of His 
people? Not in the least; but to the contrary He has raised them, 
for where much is given much is required. As our property in- 
creases; for we are sure our obligation to throw into the treasury 
of the Lord increases; for we are commanded to give according to 
what we have. Then how hardly shall the rich enter into the King- 
dom of Heaven, whom God has blessed with a great deal of the 
goods of the world? And yet they will shut up their bowels of 
compassion toward the brethren that are perishing for the bread 
of life. And 

"The poor, the object of God's love, 
Who want and famine dread." 

(Eccl. xx. 1) Solomon, in giving directions for charity, says "Cast 
thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days." 
"Give a portion to seven, and also to eight, for thou knowest not 
that scatter eth yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more 

324 Canaan in Carolina 

than is meet, and tendeth to poverty." "The liberal soul shall be 
made fat." The Savior was careful in His day to notice the liberal 
soul — so much so that He stood over against the Treasury, and 
He saw the rich man casting in much, and also the poor widow 
cast in her two mites, and He said that she had cast in more than 
they all. And the Savior commands His people to sell what they 
have and give. This was His advice to that young man that wished 
to know what good thing he must do, yet he refused to do it. Just 
so it is with many called Christians in this our day and time; if 
the ministers of Christ tell them that they ought to give to the 
missionary cause, they go away offended, like that young man; 
but, my dear brethren, it is our duty to send the Word of God far 
and wide. 

How few Christians in this day and time are willing to act the 
part of the primitive Christians, who sold their possessions and 
goods and parted them as every man had need. "Neither was there 
any that lacked; for as many as were possessors of houses or lands, 
sold them and distribution was made unto every man according as 
they had need." 

Some churches will say they are willing to pay for their own 
preaching, but they are unwilling to support a minister to go and 
preach to others; but the Apostle says to the Corinthians that he 
robbed other churches to do them service; i.e., other churches sup- 
ported him when he was preaching to them, when they ought to 
have done it — and the reason was the Corinthians had not yet 
learned their duty. We that know our duty should be willing to 
send them ministers, that they may learn their duty. "But," some 
will say, "charity should commence at home." Well then, be sure 
that you do not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out your 
corn. We are sorry to say that there are churches that do not do 
their duty in this respect; such churches ought to be afraid that 
the cries of the children of those ministers who have went a war- 
faring at their own expense and fed the flock and did not eat of 
the milk thereof, and stood at the altar and labored day and night, 
and was not made partakers of the things of the altar, will rise 
up against them and condemn them, when they are waiting to hear 
that welcome applause. "Well done, good and faithful servant." 

There is one thought that should stimulate every Baptist to 
action; that is — God has kept us, as a people, distinct from all other 
societies in the world. What society but this could have subsisted 
amidst the mutations of a hating world? Where are now the mighty 
empires of antiquity? They are but an empty name — live only in 
history, crushed by bloody wars. But the church of Christ, though 
she has undergone many revolutions, remains and will remain 

Appendix 325 

when the consumption determined by the Lord of hosts shall come 
upon all the earth. Therefore, dear brethren, we ought to look 
around us and say not, "There are four months and then cometh 
harvest; for behold the fields are white already to harvest." We 
should remember that thousands of the human family are perishing 
for want of the bread of life, every day that we live in the world; 
therefore let us up and be doing while it is day, for the night 
cometh when no man can work. Let us look through the telescope 
of love, over all the earth where the Gospel has not been preached, 
and see the ignorance, darkness, superstition, idolatry, cruelty, and 
perishing condition of man! and will not that zeal for salvation of 
a sinking world become like fire shut up in the bones? And may 
the cry be extorted from the bosom of every Christian, "Oh! that 
my head were waters and my eyes were a fountain of tears, that 
I might weep day and night" for the perishing condition of man! 
And may Zion awake and arise, and shake herself from every clog, 
and travel in her strength until many sons and daughters shall be 
born of God on the heathen shores! It seems unnecessary to prove 
that the heathen cannot be saved without the Gospel; for it is so 
plain it needs no proof. Yet we will cite your attention to a few 
Scripture texts: The Apostle says "that it has pleased the Lord, 
through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." 
And again, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." And 
again, "He that comes to God must believe that He is, and He is 
a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." Again, "How can 
they believe on Him of whom they have not heard, and how can 
they hear without a preacher?" The Eunuch, with the Scriptures 
in his hand, says: "How can I understand them, except some man 
guide me?" How, then, can the heathen believe, without the assist- 
ance of the Bible and teachers? 

It is perfect nonsense to talk of belief in a thing never heard 
of. Then if the heathen are saved it must be upon some unknown 
plan different from that of the Gospel, yet we read of but one 
cistern being hewn out, and but one system being set up by our 
Savior to save sinners. But some will say like Peter, the heathen 
are unclean, and, therefore, not worthy of the Gospel and God does 
not intend they shall hear it. The answer to this is, "The times 
of this ignorance God winked at, but now commands all men every 
where to repent." And he moreover says, "He is no respector of 

It was predicted by the prophet, that the once hostile nations 
around about Jerusalem "should pay them annual visits and join 
in their festivals." Yea, saith the prophet Isaiah, "From new moon 
to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, shall all flesh come 
to worship before the Lord of hosts." Now it is evident that these 

326 Canaan in Carolina 

high predictions were never accomplished in the earthly Zion, and 
Jerusalem, yea, it is impossible they could be in their literal sense, 
the nature of things forbids it. But to the spiritual Zion and hea- 
venly Jerusalem they have been fulfilled, and shall be more and 
more accomplished. For this holy hill must be established in all 
the world, and we can come to the city of the living God without 
a pilgrimage. "Then the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the 
leopard with the kid, and the young lion and fatling together, and 
they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain." When 
shall these high predictions be fully accomplished? Not until God's 
kingdom will come and over all prevail. Then the nations shall 
learn war no more. 

But some will admit that the Gospel is to be preached to all 
nations, which will be at God's own good time. Now let us inquire 
when that "good time" is? To-morrow? No. For God says "boast 
not thyself of to-morrow," for thou knowest not what a day will 
bring about. Then now is the time, says God, we ha^e no promise 
of to-morrow, now is the time for us to lay our shoulder to the 
Gospel wheel, and roll it on to earth's remotest bounds. Or will 
you be at ease in Zion, and slumber while the Savior pleads for a 
sinking world? 

Universal nature, as well as the Word of God, has pronounced 
a woe upon them that are at ease in Zion. If then brethren, you 
would fill the design of your holy mission, O! if you would share 
in the bliss and triumph of the Redeemed in Heaven, whose em- 
ployments and exercises are full of action, you must throw your 
whole energy into the mighty work before you. Let one simul- 
taneous onset be made upon the territory of sin, renewing the 
attack day by day, and press on with unfaltering ranks until the 
bread of life, the Bible faithfully translated; is carried to the mil- 
lions of earth, and the blessed Gospel is extended through the 
borders of our own land, and to the uttermost limits of the habitable 

Behold these two gigantic enterprises of the church! The Bible 
and the Missionary Cause! Going forth in their peerless majesty, 
linked hand in hand, to regenerate and exalt to God a ruined race, 
now in their struggle at the threshold of infidelity! They turn to 
you for sympathy and help. Shall they look in vain and be disap- 
pointed? Let the universal response be, No— no. Can you say in 
the magnanimity of your souls, God being our helper, we are able 
for the task of doing our share of spreading the Gospel to the 
ends of the world! If so, shrink not dear brethren, beneath this 
stupendous atlas. God is your strength, therefore, with a faith and 
heroism that knows no surrender, nerve your mind for the giant 

Appendix 327 

effort. And let the magnificent glory that shall crown your victory, 
give immortal strength to your broad shoulders to sustain the 
mighty load. 

Already the sound of victory is coming in loud swelling notes 
over the din of the battle field. The shouts of your brethren in 
foreign lands are heard rolling across the mighty waters. Will you 
then, not help to push on the triumphs until our united hosts shall 
be seen coming up from the wilderness, shining as the morning, 
"fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with 
banners?" Then the redeemed millions of justified spirits and 
angelic armies will rejoice to behold those triumphs in a glorious 
eternity; then the throng of the redeemed and shining legions of 
angels will join the shoutings of universal triumph, — saying: bless- 
ing and honor, and power and glory, unto Him that sitteth upon 
the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever. Amen! 

Joseph Suttle 
October 29th, 1855 


A Baptist Asbury, 162 
Adams, Rev. M. A., 47 
Albemarle, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 

50, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 59, 198, 

256, 257, 279 
Allen, W. Lawson, 152 
Anderson's Grove, 43, 52 
Andrews, Dr. W. P., 199 
Arey, Bobby, 259 
Asheville, N. C, 237 
Atlanta, Georgia, 38, 103, 108, 189, 

256, 261 
Austell, Sam H., 77, 144, 145 
Ayers, Dr. W. A., 139, 254 

Badin Community, 52 

Baley, Lewis, 277 

Baley, Mrs. Lewis, 275, 277 

Balls Creek, 174 

Baltimore, Maryland, 108 

Bannister, Rev. M. L., 155 

Barbour, Mrs. Robert, 16 

Barnes, Dr. W. W., 16 

Barnett, Canady, 230, 231 

Barnett, T. K., 32 

Barnette, J. N., 32, 92, 100-106, 238- 
241, 247 

Barron, Marie, 170 

Baxter, Elisha, 268, 302 

Baxter, Esther McDowell, 268 

Baxter, Nancy, 267 

Baxter, William, 267-68 

Beam, Stough, 229 

Bearden, William C, 150 

Beaty, J. M., 59 

Beaver Dam Baptist Church, 17, 18, 
32, 86, 111-116, 126, 134, 150, 212, 
226, 232, 244, 245, 253, 304 

Bell, Captain W. T. R., 21, 30 

Benson, N. C, 235 

Benson Church, 60 

Benton, Dr. Bruce, 51 

Berry, L. M., 119 

Berryhill, Sarah, 268 

Bethany, 119 

Bethel, 220 

Bethesda, 58, 60, 69 

Bethlehem, 81, 82, 187 

Bird, E. C, 49 

Birmingham, Alabama, 103 

Black, A. W., 81 

Black, Dr. C. J., 232 

Blackmon's Grove, 60 

Blacksburg, South Carolina, 33, 37- 

42, 46, 205, 256, 277 
Blalock, John, 42 
Blanton, Burwell, 270 
Blanton, Charles, 270 
Blanton, "Uncle" Charlie, 270 
Blanton, Elvira, 270, 272 
Blanton, George, 36, 270 
Blanton, John, 28, 313 
Boiling Springs, N. C, 29, 32, 85, 

94, 136, 137, 138, 139, 151, 210, 

Boiling Springs Baptist Church, 117, 

Bradshaw, W. R., 179, 180 
Bridges, Rev. B. M., 187, 229 
Bridges, C. A., 101 
Bridges, Gus, 39 
Bridges, Rev. J. M., 17, 32, 229 
Bridges, John, 96 
Broad River, 24, 33, 40, 88, 89 
Broadus, Dr. John A., 31, 285, 289 
Brooks, Rev. D. P., 241-43 
Brooks, Rev. J. Boyce, 16, 49 
Brooks, Robert, 151 
Broughton, Needham B., 158 
Brown, Aunt Nancy, 59, 62 
Brunswick, Georgia, 261 
Bryan, Gainer, 250 
Buck Creek Baptist Church, 315 
Buell, Gen. D. C, 261 
Buies Creek, N. C, 202 
Burnett, Dr. George J., 145 
Burns, Rev. W. D., 84 
Burroughs, Prince E., 101 
Bussey, Dr. B. W., 229 

Cabiness, Bertie Lee Suttle, 176, 

210, 256, 277, 278-79 
Cabiness, Joe, Jr., 26, 279. 290 
Cabiness. Dr. Joe T., 201, 210, 278-79 
Cade, Elder Baylus, 227 
Calton, A. L., 110 
Calhoun, John C, 261, 262 
Camp, Mrs. W. G, 187 
Camp, Rev. W. G, 209 
Campbell, Alexander, 13 
Campbell, Dr. R. C, 9, 16, 156 
Cane Ridge Camp Ground, 174 
Canley, Cora Lee, 250 
Cantrell, Rev. J. R., 145 
Capernaum, 77 
Carlisle, Hubert, 16 




Carlisle, J. B., 159 
Carpenter, J. D. S., 87 
Carpenter, Tennessee, 269 
Cartee, Fred, 183, 184 
Carter's Chapel, 60 
Casar, N. C, 22, 88, 118 
Charleston, S. C, 20, 38, 268 
Charlotte, N. C, 38, 64, 105, 139, 

155, 210, 278 
Chester, Pennsylvania, 261 
Clayton, N. C, 58, 66, 70, 159 
Clemson College, 49 
Cleveland, Col. Benjamin, 35 
Cliffside, N. C, 29, 141 
Cline, Raymond, 190 
Cobb, Elder N. B., 316 
Coggins, Z. D., 49 
Concord, N. C, 178 
Cooper, Frank, 44 
Costner, J. W., 89, 119, 145, 248-50 
Creech, J. Bryan, 16 
Creech, Jim, 67 
Creech, Laura (Granny), 66-67 
Crocker, Aunt Susan, 62 
Crowder, Ellen, 317 
Crowe, Rev. C. C, 121 

Dahlonega, Georgia, 261 

Dallas, Texas, 103, 108, 237 

Daniels, Josephus, 161 

Danville, Virginia, 210, 282 

Davis, Dr. J. Blaine, 138 

Davis, Jefferson, 269 

Davis, "Wild Bill", 42 

DeVenny, Rev. J. V., 119, 249 

De Young, Ruby, 280 

Deane, Charles B., 155 

Dedmon, Tom, 83 

Dellinger, S. L., 81 

Digh, Rev. D. W., 220 

Dixon, Addie, 224 

Dixon, Rev. Amzi Clarence, 221, 224 

Dixon, Delia, 224 

Dixon, Frank, 224 

Dixon, Tom, 30, 32, 78, 83, 119, 217, 
221, 222, 223, 224 

Dixon, Tom Jr., 223, 224, 304 

Dobbins, Drury, 78, 93, 314-15, 317 

Double Shoals Baptist Church, 80, 
84, 88, 89, 103, 126, 150, 168, 
175, 248, 249, 250, 251, 304 

Double Springs Baptist Church, 32, 
86, 91-94, 96, 97, 98-101, 103-10, 
115, 126, 134, 137, 143, 145, 150, 
167, 190, 201, 219, 238, 241, 245, 
246, 247, 270, 272, 273, 275, 304, 

Dover, Charles, 134, 274 

Dover, Jack, 134, 274 

Dover, John R., 134, 274 

Dowd, W. C, 159 

Dunn, N. C, 105 

Durham, N. C, 58 

Durham, Dr. Columbus, 159, 269, 315 

Durham, Josiah, 315 

Durham, Dr. L. N., 30, 200 

Durham, Micajah, 268-69 

Durham, Plato, 269 

Earl, North Carolina, 77 

Earl, Billy, 77 

Earp, Dr. R. E., 70 

Easom, Horace, 146, 155, 236, 237 

Ebenezer, 52 

Eddins, Prof. E. F., 49, 164, 165 

Edwards, Morgan, 12 

E'fird, Hugh, 49 

El Bethel, 33, 40, 41, 207 

Elam, Carme, 168 

Elam, Rev. Phillip Ramsour, 226, 

Elam, Rev. W. A., 231 
Elizabeth, 20, 82 
Elliott, Dr. P. L., 147, 287 
Erwin, Billy Joe, 25, 279, 282 
Erwin, Clyde A., 142 
Erwin, Mary Elizabeth Suttle, 210, 

257, 277, 281-82, 283 
Erwin, W. James, 210, 281 
Eskridge, Charles L., 189 
Ezell, J. S., 78, 315, 316 
Ezell, Rev. Landrum Cicero, 117, 


Falls, B. T., 142, 143 
Falls, John, 87 
Fallston, N. C, 118 
Farrar, Rev. John S., 298 
Fayetteville, N. C, 158 
Feezor, Dr. Forrest C, 159 
Flake, Arthur, 101, 102, 241 
Forest City, N. C, 28, 139, 254 
Fours Oaks, 60, 67, 68, 70 
Frederick, Maryland, 235 
Frost, Dr. J. M., 160 
Funderburke, Rev. Oscar, 113 
Furman, Richard, 12 

Gaffney, S. C, 40 
Gainesville, Georgia, 261, 262 
Gardner-Webb Junior College, 9, 86, 
99, 128, 134, 136, 138, 146, 147, 
149, 150, 151, 152, 188, 191, 243, 
244, 305 



Gardner, Bess, 28 

Gardner, C. P., 87 

Gardner, Faye Webb, 73, 146 

Gardner, Governor O. Max, 28, 36, 

73, 74, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 

155, 168, 191, 217, 304 
Gardner, Dr. O. P., 36, 199 
Gaston County, N. C., 33 
Gastonia, N. C, 87 
Gibbs, Dr. E. W., 177 
Gibbs, Robert, 177 
Gilbert, George B., 131 
Gillespie, Rev. J. C, 114 
Gillespie, J. S., 110 
Gilliat, Sir William, 194 
Glen Alpine, N. C, 291 
Gold, Pleasant Daniel, 316 
Goldsboro, N. C, 247, 316 
Gower, Rev. R. H., 70 
Graves, J. R., 13 
Green, Fred E., 105, 110, 239 
Green, Joe, 101 
Green, Martin, 96 
Green, Neely, 17, 112, 113 
Green, J. L., 91 
Greene, Rev. C. O., 16, 89, 121, 

Greene, M. M., 55 
Greene, Suttle, 55 
Greer, Dr. I. G., 159 
Greensboro, N. C, 29 
Greenville, S. C, 224 
Griffin, Clarence, 16 
Griffin, William Lewis, 270 
Griffith, D. W., 217 
Grover, N. C, 33, 39, 46, 253 

Hall, Jane, 162 

Halltown Baptist Church, 179-80 

Hampton, Johanathan, 312 

Hamrick, Berry, 93, 94, 115 

Hamrick, C. J., 29 

Hamrick, D. A. F., 96 

Hamrick, Dorothy W., 16 

Hamrick, E. B., 143 

Hamrick, Ed, 271 

Hamrick, Emmett W., 247-48 

Hamrick, Rev. G. P., 82 

Hamrick, George, 93, 95, 316 

Hamrick, James Lewis, 81 

Hamrick, J. Y., 32, 119 

Hamrick, Jim, 115, 116 

Hamrick, Mr. and Mrs. Lester O., 

Hamrick, Mildred, 280 
Hamrick, Price, 168 
Harbison, Dr. J. W., 200 

Hardin, John E., 82 

Harrelson, W. M., 81 

Harrill, Ab, 30 

Harrill, Rev. I. D., 232 

Harrill, Los, 30 

Harrill, Z. D., 78 

Hartford, Connecticut, 90, 210, 277, 

278, 281 
Hassell, Elder C. B., 316 
Hawkins, Edna, 238 
Hawkins, G. V., 142, 145 
Hawkins, J. B., 94 
Hawkins, J. L., 91 
Hawkins, Preston, 101 
Haymore, Dr. C. C, 183 
Haynes, R. R., 29 
Herring, Dr. Ralph A., 153, 159 
Hendricks, Stough, 229 
Hickory, N. C, 106, 178 
Hickory, First Baptist Church, 180 
Hicks, Elder Berryman, 316-17 
Hicks, Walter L., 139, 144 
High Shoals Baptist Church, 166, 

315, 318 
Highland Church, 178 
Highsmith, Dr. J. Henry, 136, 137, 

142, 143, 151 
Hill, Elder Wade, 317 
Hillman, James E., 142 
Hillsboro, N. C, 58 
Hodge, Charlie, 57 
Hoey, Hon. Clyde R., 36, 304 
Holcomb, Dr. T. L., 160 
Holland, L. P., 277 
Holland, Mrs. L. P., 275, 277 
Hood's Grove, 60 
Hopkins, Rev. Julian S., 153 
Hopper, L. M., 77 
Hord, Tim, 16 
Howington, Hoyt, 245 
Howington, Hugh, 245 
Howington, Rev. Nolan P., 244, 245 
Hoyle, Elder Jacob Asbury, 317 
Hoyle, Mr. and Mrs. William, 194 
Hufham, Rev. J. D., 227-228 
Huggins, Mrs. J. D., 188 
Huggins, M. A., 120, 157 
Humphries, E. D., 115 
Hunnicutt, Rev. J. A., 141, 142 

Irvin, A. C, 78, 118, 187, 228, 317 
Irvin, Jim, 228 
Irvin, John, 228 
Irvin, Ollie, 228 
Irvin, Pink, 228 



Jacksonville, Florida, 261 
Jenkins, Rev. J. L., 138, 142, 143, 

145, 151, 175, 287, 298 
Jent, J. W., 131 
Jessup, Rev. L. L., 76 
Johnson, Andy, 271 
Johnson, Walt N., 159 
Johnston County, 43, 58, 59, 60, 63, 

66, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 132, 159, 

169, 170, 178, 197, 198, 208, 209, 

235, 256 
Johnston, Archibald, 159 
Johnston, Livingston, 70, 159 
Jones, Rev. Sam, 230 
Jones, W. N., 159 
Jowett, John Henry, 236 

Kamm, Mrs. Ninnie Watson, 258 
Kendall's Church, 42, 50, 51 
Kendrick, P. J., 81 
Kerfoot, Dr. F. H., 31 
Kester, J. M., 203 
King, Prof. P. J., 30 
Kinston, N. C, 159 
Kirk, Mrs. Maxey, 99 

McAfee, Amanda Elizabeth, 222 
McBrayer, Dr. Evans, 22 
McBrayer, Lander, 277 
McBrayer, Mrs. Lander, 275, 277 
McBrayer, Attorney Pat, 22 
McBrayer, Col. Reuben, 230 
McBrayer, S., 131 
McBrayer, Mrs. Victor, 270, 272 
McBrayer, Dr. Victor, 270 
McBrayer, Willie, 272 
McCubbins, Dr. G. H., 39 
McCurry, Lewis, 93 
McDaniel, J. T., 187 
McGinnis, Rev. W. F., 183, 253 
McGinnis, Yates, 115 
Mclntyre, Tom, 266 
McKinney, George, 312 
McKinney, William, 312 
McMurry, A. W., 146, 149 
McMurry, Jess, 36 
McMurry, Mrs. S. A., 275 
McMurry, Mayor Sim, 275, 277 
McPherson, Holt, 113 
McSwain, A. F., 96 
McSwain, J. L., 91 
McSwain, Rev. Lewis, 117 
McVernon, Lavenia Layton, 261-262 

Lassiter, T. J., 70 
Lattimore, N. C, 119, 190 
Lattimore, Dr. Everette B., 16, 36, 

192, 193, 194, 199 
Lattimore, J. J., 119 
Lattimore, Judge, 36 
Lattimore, Stough, 229 
Lawndale, N. C, 80, 84, 85, 87, 88, 

89, 103, 126, 150, 168, 251, 276 
Laws, Rev. Gilbury, 236 
Lee, Katherine, 268 
Lee, Dr. L. V., 190 
Lee, Robert E., 268 
Lexington, N. C, 159 
Limerick, Rev. R. L., 32, 230 
Lind, Jenny, 269 
Lineberger, Ethel, 277 
Logan, John R., 16, 131, 226, 229 
Logan, Rev. R. P., 117, 119 
London, England, 224 
London, Matt, 150 
Long Creek Baptist Church, 33, 225 
Louisburg, N. C, 156 
Louisville, Kentucky, 31 
Lovelace, A. C, 142, 145 
Lovelace, Edmond, 100, 230 
Lowe, W. E., 232 
Lowery, Nina, 214 
Lynchburg, Virginia, 283 

Madison County, N. C, 73, 74, 132 

Madison Seminary, 73 

Maddry, Dr. Charles E., 159 

Manly, Dr. Basil, 31 

Marsh, Dr. R. H., 159 

Marshall, N. C, 73, 75, 168, 169, 171, 

177, 185, 186, 210, 277 
Massey, Carver, 62 
Mayo, Rev. Larry, 16 
Meacham, Mr. and Mrs. Earl, 28 
Mercer, I. M., 159 
Meredith, Thomas, 12 
Middleton, E. L., 106, 239 
Miller, A., 312 
Miller, John, 51 
Miller, Lou, 270 
Mills, Dr. J. H., 159 
Missionary Baptists, Growth of, 14 
Mixon, Dr. F. O., 153, 155, 157, 159 
Monroe, W. F., 253-54 
Moody, Dwight L., 180 
Moore, Bob, 190 
Moore, Dr. Hight C, 107, 109 
Mooresboro, N. C, 42, 78, 190 
Morgan, Senator Robert, 113, 151 
Morganton, N. C, 20 
Morrison, Cameron, 148 
Morrison, Dr. R. H., 200 
Morrow, Emily, 262 



Morrow, James, 262 

Moss, J. F., 81 

Mount Airy, N. C, 183 

Mount Moriah Baptist Church, 58 

Mount Sinai, 117 

Mull, Mrs. Otis, 272 

Mullins, Dr. E. Y., 236 

Munn, Rev. L. D., 16 

Nashville, Tennessee, 13, 102, 106, 
107, 132, 151, 189, 238, 247 

Nelson, Dr. W. A., 230 

Neuse River, 57, 60 

New Bern, N. C, 58 

New Bethel, 80, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 
103, 126, 150, 168, 251, 304 

New Hope, 77, 80, 126 

New London, 52 

New Prospect, 176, 193, 221, 222 

Norman's Grove, 119 

Oates, John A., 158 

Olive, Eli, 171 

Owens, Mrs. Penry, 272 

Padgett, Rev. Rush, 143, 232 

Page, G. G., 119 

Palmerville Church, 42, 49, 50, 164, 

Palmtree Church, 88 
Pangle, Mr. and Mrs. M. G., 141 
Pannell, Rev. Dove, 117, 119, 225, 

Pannell, Martin, 226 
Parks, B. P., 232 
Parker, Cicero, 47 
Parker, Daniel, 13 
Paschal, Dr. G. W., 16 
Patterson Grove, 81, 82, 126, 150, 

Philbeck, Irvin, 96 
Philbeck, Shirley, 248 
Philpot, Toby, 259 
Pickler, Little Bessie, 53 
Pickler, Joe, 52, 53 
Piedmont Academy, 85 
Piercy, Fred Graham, 144 
Pierson, Abraham, 261 
Pierson, Albert, 260 
Pierson, Andrew Fremont, 260, 277 
Pierson, Beatrice, 260 
Pierson, Charlie, 260 
Pierson, Clifford, 260 
Pierson, Ella Barbara Stringer, 260, 

Pierson, Frank, 260 
Pierson, Fred, 260 

Pierson, Horace, 260, 261 
Pierson, Maude, 260 
Pierson, Pauline, 260 
Pineville, N. C, 281 
Pipkins, Julia, 316 
Pisgah, 60, 68, 70, 249 
Pleasant Grove Church, 178 
Pleasant Ridge Church, 229 
Plybon, C. T., 142 
Poplar Springs Church, 82 
Poplin's Grove, 52 
Poston, Rev. Robert, 117 
Poston, Rev. Robin, 167 
Poteat, Dr. W. L, 159 
Princeton, N. C, 60, 177 
Princeton Baptist Church, 70 
Price, Rev. Oliver C, 291 
Pritchard, T. H., 12 
Pruitt, Dr. L. R., 47, 64, 210, 278 
Purefoy, Dr. George, 178, 229 
Putnam, Rev. Frank, 174, 232 
Putnam, Marion, 273 

Quinn, J. H., 143 

Raleigh, N. C, 58, 103, 107, 132, 158, 

169, 208, 224, 241, 305 
Reap, Charles A., 51 
Redmon, Herman, 179 
Reed, Rev. W. C, 155 
Reidsville, N. C, 114 
Rice, Luther, 12 
Richmond, Virginia, 103 
Ridgecrest, N. C, 156 
Ridgeway, S. C, 29, 200 
Ritch, Mrs. Lillian, 144 
Roanoke, Virginia, 156 
Roberts, J. A., 131 
Roberts, John, (see cover) 
Roberts, Rev. Lawrence, 119 
Robeson County, N. C, 159 
Rock Springs, N. C, 174 
Rollins, G. W., Jr., 30, 220 
Rollins, Rev. G. W., 78, 119, 220 
Rollins, J. U., 142, 145 
Roosevelt, Pres. F. D., 145 
Ross Grove, 83 
Roxboro, N. C, 174 
Royal, William C, 235, 236 
Royster, Leland, 89, 175, 250-51 
Rudisall, Audie, 224 
Rutherford County, N. C, 18, 93, 

115, 135, 146, 220, 224, 253, 266, 

268, 269, 274, 310, 311, 313, 315 
Rutherfordton, N. C, 20, 28, 199, 

Ryburn, R. L., 275 



Salisbury, N. C, 46, 57, 178 
Sampey, Dr. John R., 31, 289 
Sandy Plains, 81 
Sandy Run Church, 42, 77, 78, 79, 

117, 126, 178, 187, 190, 315 
Sardis, 52, 60, 70 
Schenck, Major, H. F., 88, 119 
Seism, Rev. L. B., 89 
Selma, N. C, 57, 59 
Sharon Community, 22 
Shaver, Mrs. Lula, 16, 44 
Shelby, Dover Church, 82 
Shelby, Eastside, 82 
Shelby, First Baptist, 75, 76, 122, 

138, 142, 146, 227, 229, 230, 237, 

257, 273 
Shelby, Col. Isaac, 35 
Shelby, Second Church, 75, 76, J 82, 

238, 276 
Shipp, Cameron, 233 
Sibley, D. R., 210, 281 
Sibley, Esther Barbara Suttle, 210, 

257, 277, 280, 281 
Sikes, Claude, 49 
Sikes, E. W., 47 
Silver Springs, 43, 51, 52 
Sims, Hon. R. N., 159, 169 
Smithfield, N. C, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 

62, 64, 65, 70, 159, 169, 170, 186, 

236, 255, 257, 280, 281, 305, 306 
South Mountains, 22 
Spartanburg, S. C, 280 
Splllman, Dr. B. W., 101, 132, 159 
Sproles, Rev. J. A., 32, 39 
Stanly County, N. C, 45, 49, 51, 52, 

54, 132, 178, 256 
Stough, A. L., 119, 226, 229 
Stringer, Daniel M., 262 
Stringfield, O. L., 159 
Stroup, D. B., 81 
Stroup, Mrs. Rush, 142, 146 
Suthill, Sir Henry, 267 
Suttle, A. B., 270, 271 
Suttle, Benjamin F., 267, 270, 311 
Suttle, C. B., 45, 46, 176, 256 
Suttle, Charles Batie, 35, 266, 270, 

271, 272-73, 274-75 
Suttle, Diane, 280 
Suttle, Dock, 36 

Suttle, Elizabeth, 270, 311, 312, 313 
Suttle, Esther Jane Wray, 266, 272, 

Suttle, George, 267, 269, 310, 311 
Suttle, Irene, 39 
Suttle, Isaac, 267 
Suttle, J. L., Jr., 219, 276 
Suttle, Joe L., 29, 198, 229, 275, 277 

Suttle, John B., 270, 311 

Suttle, Joseph, 34, 78, 84, 94, 121, 
166, 167, 219, 221, 267, 270, 271, 
272, 273, 275, 310, 312, 313, 327 

Suttle, Julius Albert, 275 

Suttle, Leila Pierson, 33, 37, 38, 39, 
41, 42, 45, 46, 74, 88, 110, 144, 
176, 186, 208, 209, 255-264, 277, 

Suttle, M. A., 28 

Suttle, Michael Batie, 280 

Suttle, Nancy, 270, 310, 311 

Suttle, Sarah, 270, 311 

Suttle, Susan, 270, 311 

Suttle, William B., 270, 311, 312 

Swope, Rev. L. W., 119 

Sylva, N. C, 105, 247 

Talbot, Mrs. C. P., 261 
Taylor, John, 13 
Thanksgiving Church, 70 
The Cleveland Oligarchy, 161 
The Parson's Schedule, 127 
Thompson, Dr. H. C, 201 
Thomburg, John Jacob, 253 
Tichenor, Dr. Isaac T., 12, 13 
Toms, James, 274 
Toms, Tommy, 206 
Traywick, Othello C, 16 
Treadway, Rev. R. E., 176 
Troy, N. C, 52 
Truett, George W., 236, 287 
Turner, J. Clyde, 159 
Tucker, W. Ashley, 49 

Union County, N. C, 49 
Union Grove, 42, 52 

Van Ness, I. J., 101, 160 
Vipperman, Dr. J. L., 33 

Wacaster, John, 81 

Wacaster, Mrs. John, 145, 243 

Wacaster, Ruth, 206 

Waco, N. C, 80, 81, 86, 103, 126, 145, 

199, 243 
Wait, Samuel, 12 
Walker, Mae, 276 
Wall, Dr. Zeno, 76, 138, 145, 146, 

232, 237, 281 
Ware, Dr. Bob, 200 
Warren, Dr. C. C, 105, 155, 158, 159 
Washburn, A. V., Jr., 106, 189, 246-47 
Washburn, A. V., St., 105, 145, 239, 

Washburn, Mrs. D. G., 229 
Washburn, Rev. D. G., 179, 232, 249 
Washburn, Mrs. Edith, 105, 247 



Washburn, Emily D., 16 
Washburn, Estilla McSwain, 5 
Washburn, J. C, 5, 95, 100, 145 
Washburn, Ruby F., 16 
Washburn, W. W., 94 
Watson, T. Max, 191 
Weathers, Hon. Lee B., 16, 232 
Webb, Charles, 225 
Webb, E. Y., 119, 137, 143, 146, 225, 

Webb, Rev. G. M., 32, 117, 224, 225 
Webb, George, 225 
Webb, Hatcher N., 22 
Webb, James L., 146, 225, 304 
Webb, James Milton, 317 
Webb, Mrs. Paul, 272 
Webb, Miss Sallie, 22 
Webb, Sara Newton, 16 
Webb, Miss Selma, 22 
Webber, Jesse, 262 
Webber, Quincy, 262 
Wells, Captain Jim, 25, 272 
White, J. L., 236 
White, Dr. John E., 159 
Whitsitt, Dr. W. H., 31 
Williams, Roger, 13 
Wilmington, N. C, 58, 237 
Wilson, N. C, 70 
Wilson's Mill Church, 60 
Wilson, Phil, 262 
Wilson, "Uncle" Willie, 36 
Wingate, W. M., 12 

Winston-Salem, N. C, 237 

Wiseman, Mrs. Maggie, 29 

Wood, Dr. John, 228 

Woodall, Festus L., 66 

Woodhall, Dr. Barnes, 200, 201 

Wray, Arthur, 276 

Wray, Charles, 29 

Wray, David W., 275 

Wray, Esther Jane, 271 

Wray. George W., 25, 28, 270, 272, 

273, 274, 276 
Wray, J. A. L., 271, 273, 274, 275 
Wray, James, 29 
Wray, Jesse, 111 
Wray, Maggie, 39 
Wray, Priscilla, 274 
Wray, Sara Suttle, 270, 274 
Wray, Sarah, 35 
Wray, Stough, 229 
Wray, William, 275 
Wright, Rev. David, 52 
Wright, Lawson, 179 

Yarborough, J. H., 78, 119, 219, 314 

York, S. C, 20 

Young, Carlos, 214 

Young, Fields, 214 

Yoimg, Lamar, 214 

Young, Aunt "Sooky", 28 

Zion Church, 77, 117, 119, 167 

Zoar Church, 77, 80, 102, 126, 168 

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